Sunday, December 25, 2011


Remember Good King Wenceslas?  I've always loved this Christmas carol because it tells a story.  But also because the story is one of compassion.
A king looks out his castle window and sees a poor man struggling through the snow in search of wood for a fire. He and his servant go out to find the man and bring him in for a feast.  The servant grows cold and weary but King Wenceslas leads the way, warming the soil for the servant who walks in his footsteps. The song doesn't tell us if they find the man.  It simply states that in doing good, we will find blessing.

Wenceslas was born in Prague, the son of a king in 907. When he was 13 years old his father died. Although he was the heir apparent he was not yet ready to be king.  His grandmother took him under her wing and gave him Christian training which later influenced his rule.  He has long been the most revered man in the land we now know as the Czech Republic.
King Wencelas - Image provided by Wikipedia Commons
Last week, the Czechs lost another beloved leader.  Vaclav Havel served time in prison for writing plays and essays that spoke out against communism and he helped lead Czechs in the peaceful revolution that ended 4 decades of communist rule. He did not seek to be president but the people asked him to lead which he did  for 14 years.  Like Wenceslas, he led with compassion and courage, warming the soil for his followers.
Vaclav Havel Image provided by Wikipedia Commons

In the years after Havel's presidency he continued to write and to work for freedom and human rights. Last week, on December 18 he died.  The Czech people filled Wenceslas Square to honor his life and to mourn his death.  Many of them remember the years under communism and the bloodless revolution that bought their freedom. Havel is the predominant symbol of that change.

You can read more on Havel here and on countless other sites.

Here's a Havel quote I particularly like.  "Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed."  I suspect that King Wenceslas would agree with Havel on this and countless other beliefs.


  1. I felt terrible when I read about Vaclav Havel's death. I have done so much work in 20th Czech history, and he was such a needed person when he came along and really lived up to the task he was faced with. He will certainly be missed.

    Your post in a very interesting comparison and so apropos.

  2. Thanks Alex - you inspired me with your post on the 12 Days of Christmas origins.

    The two kings comparisons were inevitable. Sometimes history does the writing for us.

  3. That last quote is going to go on my google+ page... and maybe even twitter. Good post.

    And I hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

  4. As usual, another thought- provoking post. I didn't know about Havel's death (totally was out of the news world while in Spain) but have read bits and pieces about him. Thanks for the post.

  5. Catching up on my reading a little late. This is a wonderful post and a great reminder of the true meaning of the season. Thanks. Happy New Year to you, Joyce.