The Good King

Good King Wenceslas looked out, On the feast of Stephen, When the snow lay round about, Deep and crisp and even, Brightly shone the moon that night, Though the frost was cruel…

For most the Christmas season does not usually evoke ruminations of first century monarchs and Central European beer.  But given my proclivities toward history and imported brews, I am certainly unlike most.  After recently hearing Good King Wenceslas – a favorite Christmas carol – and experiencing colder than normal December temperatures, the song stirred thoughts of Czech beer and memories of a past vacation to Prague.

The “good king” was, in actuality, a duke of Bohemia during the first century, A.D.  His is considered something of a national hero to Czechs, who hold his persecution and martyrdom close given their historical Cold War oppression.  In the song, Wenceslas is praised for his generosity in alms giving and strength against the winter snow.

Coincidentally this carol was playing while I drank a cold Pilsner Urquell in the warmth of my living room recently; company was over and holiday music provided the appropriate atmosphere.  The song reminded me of the sunny and breezy Prague weather as well as the deliciously inexpensive beer found in every pub and tavern visited.  Pilsner Urquell – brewed in Plzeň (Pilsen), Czech Republic – can also be easily found here in the states.  It is crisp and slightly hoppy, a touch heavier and more complex than its German brethren.

For me, Czech beer was a fond reminder of a relaxing vacation filled with scenic walks, hearty food, and rich history.  But now I have more memories with which to associate it: a windy and frigid winter evening; the Christmas tree’s twinkling lights and pine smell; and the sound of the good king’s song, recounting heated winter footsteps leading the way to a warm home and perhaps, a beer.

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Published in: on December 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm  Comments Off on The Good King  
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