Christmas in Prague
Christmas in Prague is equal parts generically European, and quirkily Czech, but all the more magical for that! While Christmas is a mostly family affair here, you may want to plunge into local legends and traditions to make your Christmas holiday more special. Early in December, Czech children are visited by Mikulas, accompanied by Cert (the devil) and the Angel. He looks into whether the child has been naughty or nice and then gives out coal or presents, and sometimes both, accordingly. Young children, and especially the naughtier ones, are often terrified of this bearded man in white. Here, it is Jezisek or baby Jesus who brings presents to the children.
As Christmas day approaches, the streets will begin to light up and Christmas markets are open right through December at the Old Town Square, Wenceslas, Namesti Republiky and Namasti Miru. Be sure to taste the ‘parek v rohliku’ (Czech hot dog), Trdlo (a hard cylindrical pancake), svavrene vino (mulled wine) and grog (hot rum and water). The main Christmas tree at the Old Town Square is shipped in from the Krkonose mountains in the north, and is an impressive spectacle framed by the imposing Gothic surroundings. The markets abound with not just food and drink, but toys and candles, ceramics and woolens, and crafts of local provenance. The picture is complete with the nativity scenes, joined by a llama, music and singing to make for the perfect Prague Christmas.
Prague is beautiful at all times of the year, but Prague Christmas season renders the cobbled streets even more idyllic. Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, St. Vitus’ Church and their surroundings are all brilliantly illuminated throughout the year and you will be serenaded by Christmas music and performances on the street. The astronomical clock at Wenceslas Square continues to draw the crowds. Marionette theaters organize special Christmas performances and you could have a wonderful Christmas meal on a cruise across the Vltava.
Interestingly, Czech families traditionally eat carp on Christmas, and you will notice several vats or ‘Carp Ponds’ pop up in the city. The family meal may be modest or elaborate, and is usually eaten at home. Often, families skip lunch in order to be able to savor the ‘golden pig’ at dinner. For a wonderful Christmas dinner away from home, in the ideal atmosphere, we recommend you go to At The Golden Pear, behind the Prague Castle. The U Mecenase Restaurant and the M D Rettigove are also good options.
You might consider attending Christmas mass at the Old Town Square, after which there are usually performances by the National Theater Opera and the Prague State Opera. Café Slavia is perfect for a Christmas morning breakfast! If you want to enjoy a relaxed day with the family, take the funicular up from Mala Strana area, to Petrin Hill to see a panoramic view of the city.Hotels and other accommodation will be booked out during Prague Christmas time, so be sure to book in advance! We recommend you check in at the Ametyst or the Crowne Plaza Castle Hotel.