Grumpy Br(u)no: When Will Christmas Finally Be Over?

Photo: KK / Brno Daily.

It has been weeks already, and I am tired of Christmas. Some people, like my constantly-humming-Christmas-carols wife and my eating-chocolate-every-day-from-a-Paw-Patrol-advent-calendar kids, are still be excited.

I am not.

The weather sucks. The traffic is unrelenting. The customer service in shops is terrible. And why in the world would anyone willingly drink a hot alcoholic drink?

Bah Humbug! There, I said it.

Hot Alcohol

Hot alcohol is disgusting. Period. Full stop.

It doesn’t warm you up enough to overcome the terrible taste. And even if it warms you up, it doesn’t matter because it’s disgusting.

Here is a recipe for Svařák, perhaps the most common hot-alcohol drink:

  • 1 bottle of the red wine that is so terrible and cheap that you would not drink it straight.

Add a bunch of stuff to cover up the awful taste, including:

  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 to 10 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 lemon and
  • 1 orange.

Heat all of that for a while, then drink it.

No thanks.

All year long I savor good wine and enjoy the experience. Why should I bastardize my standards just because there a lot of people standing around in Náměstí svobody.

And what is Turbo Most? It sounds like a video-game super power: Quick, catch that apple so that you get Turbo Most! Frankly, as soon as you start attaching marketing-heavy names to a drink, that drink stops being a legitimate option.  

Forget it. Give me my alcohol the way I drink it all year. Beer: In a glass mug with a nice head of foam on it. Whiskey: In a shot glass. Mixed Drinks: A Whiskey Sour if I must.

If you need a “gitty up” when its cold drink slivovice. It may not warm you up according to biological principals, but it feels like it does.


The weather, the early darkness and the holiday shopping all conspire to make driving in Brno terrible during the month of December. Throw in the remaining construction and you waste a lot of time stuck in a line of cars.

Christmas Music

Thank goodness that there are not many carolers here in the Czech Republic. It is difficult enough to have a wife and kids who float around the house humming “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer”. Who are those people? Are they really related to me?


I once had a student who had a genius plan. He refused to go to any kind of store in December. Grocery shopping, clothes shopping, whatever — that was all up to his wife. Brilliant! Genius! I never did figure out what he had to pay in return for that glorious luxury. Whatever it was it would have been a bargain at half the price.  

And, not for nothing, people complain about Czech customer service year around. You think that, magically, the shop assistants, imbued with the power of Ježíšek, become polite and helpful when accosted by the holiday crowds? As they say in Brooklyn: Fuggedabout it.

Office Christmas Parties

I’ll have a few beers with just about anybody — as long as they have something interesting to say. However, the office holiday party is fraught with potential danger.

Being around the same people with whom you work is comforting. But it is too congenial. You tend to drink too much. Then someone brings hard alcohol and complicates your buzz. Then you say stupid things. Dance too much. 


The center piece of Czech Christmas is a bony, bottom-feeding fish that is breaded and fried in oil: Cyprinus carpio, the common carp. Most people would never choose to eat carp on any other day of the year, yet, on arguably the most special family meal of the year, carp is the main dish. Brilliant!

New Year’s Eve

This country loves its fireworks. Brno is famous around the world for hosting the Ignisis Brunensis international fireworks competitions every year.

People will be setting off fireworks throughout the city on New Year’s Eve. It can be a downright war zone in Náměstí svobody when teenagers are shooting Roman candles at each other.

It’s nice, I guess, to have fireworks.

No, forget it. I change my mind. Bah Humbug! They are loud, smelly and expensive.

* * *

The only thing that I can think of that is positive — aside from the joy of little kids opening their presents and the embraces that you share with loved ones — is the fact that this year, the calendar is pretty good: take a Monday and a Friday off and you’ve got a long time to sit at home and relax.

I’m sure that my attitude will straighten out as soon as I can be at home with family. Remove the traffic and the shopping and the other people and Christmas will be much better.

Unless, of course, the wife and kids continue with the incessant Christmas carols!

I hope that this column will provide thought-provoking observations of local life that will be interesting for a Saturday-morning read. If you have any suggestions or comments, please pass them along to

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. The publishing of this article does not constitute an endorsement of or any other expression of opinion by the management of Brno Daily.

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