Much maligned in the US, the carp is seen as a muck dwelling, invasive bottom feeder.
Throughout the country, bounties are put on their slimy heads. For the carp, it’s always open season. But in the Czech Republic, the boney fish is to Christmas what the noble turkey is to Thanksgiving. Each year, a few days before Christmas, fish mongers bring the fish to a kind of open air market in tubs where families select a fish and bring it home—alive. The temporary pets are given free reign of the family bathtub, much to the delight of children who willingly skip bathing until it’s all over.
The majority of the country’s carp come from Třeboň, a picturesque town in the south. But these carp are not your average duck poop and rotting carcass eating, cleaner-type fish. In Třeboň, these fish are raised with great care. The ponds are drained frequently and fresh water added, and they’re fed grain and fattened up for their big holiday showing.
Besides being the carp capital, the pretty town of Třeboň is quite an undiscovered gem. It is surrounded by centuries old fish ponds and home to some high-end spas. The chateau in town belonged to the Rožmberk family—the same family that built Rožmberk Castle in nearby Český Krumlov. The Rožmberk rose is seen throughout the city and is incorporated into the town’s coat of arms. After the last of the Rožmberks died in 1611, the estate was passed along to the Schwarzenbergs. The chateau displays wonderful exhibitions about both important Bohemian families.