Merry Christmas, or “Vesele Vanoce”, as we say in Czech! Christmas festival belongs to the most significant in Czech culture, and be sure Prague lives up to its reputation of an active city; it all lights up and live the Christmas spirit, also it is the only time of the year when Prague citizens go to the church – for concerts.
It all starts with Christmas markets, which usually open on 1st December; on the Old Town Square is the most traditional market, the second most famous opens on Namesti Miru, the third biggest takes place on Wenceslas Square.
Thousands of people come to the squares, to see the light shows, hear the concerts. The traditional specialities, sold in the kiosks with red roofs are welcomed – hot mead and wine especially.
Markets at the Old Town Square are the largest, with 100 vending places, opened from 9 to 19 hours, on weekends until 20. The stances with refreshments are opened until midnight.
What you can buy there? Among others traditional Christmas goods, such as candles, decorations, ceramics, Christmas tea, products from wood, hand-made jewellery and much more.
When the big Christmas tree is lighted up, celebrations can begin.
Czech Christmas celebrations culminate on one evening; the Christmas Eve, forgot the American style when you get the gifts on 25th in the morning. 24th is the big day here.
In the Czech Republic (and Slovakia) the day goes like this: If there is snow outside, one should take something out and start sledging the hills. Than home, and turn the TV on. To watch the fairy-tales! But they must be Czech fairy-tales, as they are among the least violent of prolly all the fairy-tales in the world. All who can must join, and enjoy them.
When the evening comes, there is the time for the ceremonial dinner. It should be a carp, or any other fish with potato salad, served with good beer, or vine. Lite up the candles and talk.
The main phase starts after dinner: There are gifts under the tree! Time to unwrap it, slowly and nicely, and finally marvel at all the things your closest ones gave you, and to enjoy the others unwrapping those you gave to them.
When it is all over, you can finally heave a sigh of relief, and go to sleep, with the nice perspective this circus won’t be back until the next year.
Christmas Carp in Prague Vltava
Those who travel to the Czech Republic to enjoy some of our Christmas spirit, like the concerts at the Old Town, can be surprised, what do all the fish do in the bowls at street corners. A simple answer – they wait for the Christmas Eve to be ceremonially eaten! This old-times tradition is specific. Even when somehow morbid (the carps are being slaughtered in front of pedestrians) it belongs to the previously mentioned Czech Christmas spirit.
Not all Czechs buy a carp for Christmas, and not all Czechs who buy a carp finally eat it. The complete tradition is the family who buys the carp should kill and cook it by themselves, which is a thing a modern men is mostly not able to execute without heavy mental trauma, resulting in a very new tradition, especially in Prague: ceremonial setting of the carp free. Even when most of the freed carps won’t survive in the fast flowing waters of Vltava, some are going to live long and well as the research proves. Do you want to try it? Buy one, take your dearest, and free it. You will feel good, I promise.