Christmas is coming, and while the goose is off getting fat, Chatter met up with Yuletide carol-mainstay Wenceslas to dig deeper into the man, the myth and the mystery that is the Good King from Bohemia.

Chatter: King Wenceslas, thank you for taking a few moments out of your busy holiday schedule to speak with us.

Good King Wenceslas: Please. Most of my schedule revolves around mall appearances and cameos the occasional mega-church Christmas extravapalooza.

Chatter: Excellent. So, rumor has it you were never actually a king.

GKW: Oh, it’s going to be one of those kind of interviews, is it? Well, what would you call the person who ruled Bohemia from 925 to 935 and was beloved by friends and other friends alike?

Chatter: Wikipedia would say “duke.”

GKW: Curse you and your website, Julian Assange!

Chatter: Umm, that’s Wikileaks…

GKW: Lookit. Technically, no, I was not a king. But was that creepy dude who loves flame-broiled meat patties ever actually crowned the Burger King? Or is he just a usurper? A rebel? A pretender to the throne rightfully belonging to one Julius A. Whataburger the Fancy?!

Chatter: The Fancy?

GKW: As in ketchup.

Chatter: Right. Moving on. You ruled from Prague in what is today known as the Czech Republic, but in the Middle Ages was known as Bohemia. What was the area like?

GKW: It’s been a few centuries, but I recall the streets of Prague being filled with music.

Chatter: Sounds idyllic.

GKW: You would think that, but no. Imagine every bad Queen cover band in the world putting their own spin on “Bohemian Rhapsody” all at once.

Chatter: Dear lord…

GKW: Exactly. And to this day I still refuse to do the fandango. Or buy movie tickets from them.

Chatter: Tell us about the Feast of Stephen.

GKW: Of course! Of course! Such a wonderful event. Every year, on the day after Christmas, Stephen Cannell would bust out the best nog and help everyone postpone the post-Advent blues by one more day. Truly, an evening fit for a king.

Chatter: Or a duke.

GKW: Shut up.

Chatter: Wait, did you say Stephen Cannell?

GKW: Yes, he was a well-known showman in the region. He produced such popular weekly plays as The Angel-Team, The Greatest Bohemian Hero and my personal favorite, The Wenceslas Files starring James the Garnerer.

Chatter: You’re kidding, right?

CKW: I am. The Wenceslas Files actually starred me. I mean, how could it not?

Chatter: And then, almost 1,000 years later in 1853, you came to star in  the eponymous Christmas carol by John Neale.

CKW: Indeed. That was actually a commissioned piece. I’d originally thought it too gauche to authorize such an homage to one’s self, but then I figured if that narcissist St. Nicholas could get away with it, why not someone of truly good intent?

Chatter: Sounds like there’s some bad blood between you and jolly old St. Nick.

CKW: For a long time there was, yes. I mean, the man did steal my shtick of trudging through the cold to deliver gifts to the deserving. Before that he’d just done the lump of coal thing. Not very popular. Especially when they were just rocks painted black. Couldn’t even use them for fuel. But anyway, I forgave him once his celebrity blew up. Who needs that mess? Not CK Widdy, that’s for sure.

Chatter: CK Widdy?

CKW: It’s leetspeak, n00b. Don’t be such an L-user.

Chatter: You know, you’re not really as good and kind as I thought you might be.

CKW: Cut me some slack, man. I’ve donated bone marrow 1,455 times and given over 180,000 pints of blood in the last millennium. All after being assassinated by my own brother when I was just 28. I’d say that’s fairly impressive.

Chatter: It is. It is.

CKW: And did I mention ghost writing the Declaration on Independence?

Chatter: Umm, no.

CKW: That’s good, because I didn’t. But sometimes ye olde mead gets the better of me.

Chatter: That’s not surprising. So, anything you’d like to share with our readers during this special time of year?

CKW: Frankincense never goes out of style. But gift cards will do in a pinch. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Chatter: Merry Christmas, Duke.

CKW: I hope Nick fills your stocking with black rocks.

Wenceslaus I was probably born in 907 and most definitely was assassinated on September 28, 935. He was the duke of Bohemia, an area in central Europe occupying the western half of the current Czech Republic. Wenceslaus assumed his dukedom at the age of 13 upon his father’s death in 921. After his mother made a mess of things for several years, the duke assumed running the government for himself in 924 or 925 – and sent his mother on a permanent vacation shortly thereafter. While on his way to church, Wenceslaus was assassinated by three of his brother’s companions in 935, allowing his younger brother – the aptly named Boleslav the Cruel – to assume rule. Kids have been using this as an excuse to get out of Sunday school for the last 1,000 years.

The duke was deemed a martyr and saint immediately upon his death, with four hagiographies being written within the first few decades after his demise. His main claim to fame was that he regularly went out at night in his bare feet to give alms to widows, orphans, prisoners and others in need. This legend was later deemed fact by Pope Pius II. Though a duke in life, Wenceslaus was made a king in death by Holy Roman Emperor Otto I. Thus ensuring confusion amongst history nerds with the real King Wenceslaus of Bohemia who ruled some three centuries later.

Aside from the carol bearing his name (written in 1853 by Czech enthusiast John Mason Neale), Wenceslaus is also the main character in a popular Czech legend. Whenever the Czech people, says the legend, are facing their ultimate demise, Wenceslaus will awake an army of knights that currently slumber within Mount Blanik and lead the people to victory.

Good King Wenceslas has remained a popular carol since its writing, even though many critics of the time thought it silly for textual reasons that people out a-wassailing couldn’t give a hoot about.

Source: Wikipedia