Vánocka is a braided bread, baked in Czech Republic and Slovakia (in Slovak called vianocka) traditionally at Christmas time. It is rich in eggs
, making it similar to brioche. Lemon rind and rum add color and flavor; the dough can also contain raisins
, and is braided like challah
. A vánocka may be built from three progressively smaller braids, stacked on top of each other; this is sometimes interpreted as a rough sculpture of the baby Jesus wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger.
It has a reputation for being difficult to prepare, so in many households, superstitions and special customs are attached to the baking process. When making vánocka, it is said that one must think of everyone dear to you. Another custom is to avoid touching silver or metal to the vánocka. Finally, the person who is making the vánocka should jump up and down while the dough rises.
The bread is named after Vánoce meaning Christmas in Czech (Vianoce in Slovak).
Out of identical dough, a loaf called mazanec is made on Easter.