The Cost of Czech Christmas Then and Now

The Cost of Czech Christmas Then and Now

Online server with some help from the Czech Statistical Office has complied a price comaprison between Christmas shopping in 1980s Czechoslovakia and now.

The comparison starts with a look at the average wage in 1989 (3,170 CZK) versus that of the average monthly salary of today, recently reported by the CZSO at 27,220 CZK; an increase of roughly 8,500 CZK.

(Note that due to the laws of inflation, many of the items on the socialist shopping list would have been more expensive back then, meaning there is no cheaper time to club a carp and load up on Czech booze!)

The article goes on to outline the cost of Christmas shopping now and then, starting with the traditional Czech Christmas dinner main course of carp, which in 1989 was 20 CZK/kg. Today you can buy the same fish in Prague for about 90 CZK/kg. 

Carp can be accompanied by no other side than potato salad. In 1989, a kilo of potatoes cost 1.60 CZK. This year it rings up at 15 CZK. Ten eggs cost 13 CZK in 1989; today it would be just slightly above 30 CZK.

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What about the mayo, pickles, and peas you say? Back in the day, mayonnaise was more often than not homemade while the pickles and other ingredients came from the preserves in the larder, meaning that this was a truly cheap and filling dish for the ages.

Many of us tend to buy our Christmas cookies these days with a dozen starting at around 250 CZK a pop. In the 1980s, people primarily baked their cukroví at home, often starting in early November although keeping an eye out for available ingredients throughout the year. 

A kilo of oranges was 14 CZK (quite a luxury back then considering a sack of citrus would have cost more like 119 CZK according to inflation). Today oranges are 30 CZK/kilogram. 

Flour, which can currently be purchased for 15 CZK/kilo, was around 3.20 CZK in 1989; those who added a bit of “rum” to their holiday baking could get a liter for 100 CZK (for yesteryear’s shopper 850 CZK!); the same bottle is 229 CZK today.

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What about gifts? Despite the changing economy it seems that Czechs have always been practical gift givers: the most popular gift back then, a sweater, was a bit more than 148 CZK. Today, a nice sweater costs around 600 CZK. 

Elizabeth Haas

Elizabeth Haas is the editor of She has lived in Prague for 12 years working as a writer and editor of cookbooks and travel guides. Her work has appeared in both Czech and American publications.

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