Posts Tagged ‘Christmas market’

9:18 am

Christmas Eve

December 24 is the first day of the three-day Christmas holiday, and the Czechs take this seriously as a holiday. There’s little, if any, last minute running around to buy Christmas presents or groceries, and any stores that are open at all close by early afternoon. The Christmas market at Náměstí Míru was virtually shut down before noon:

Some merchants weren’t even waiting ’til after Christmas to dismantle their booths:

Midday, there was a little more activity at the market near Václavské náměstí:

But by evening, after the 6:30 Mass at sv. Tomaš, even the big market at Staroměstské náměstí was pretty well shut down.

Staroměstské náměstí is the site, however, of the outdoor concert performance of Ryba’s Czech Christmas Mass (Rybova Mše Vánoční) at 9:15. Despite the (light) snow, it was well attended:

And, despite the weather, the singers were in excellent voice.

After the performance, the square emptied out pretty quickly:

Only a few of the booths selling food and drink remained open, though even they didn’t seem to be doing much business:

Coming home by way of Václavské náměstí, I took this picture of the market’s nativity scene:

It’s a little strange for an American brought up on arguments against public Nativity scenes as a violation of separation of Church and state to see so many nativity scenes as a matter of fact part of the decorations, especially in this largely atheistic country!

6:53 am

Feast of sv. Mikulas

In Czech, St. Nicholas is sv. Mikuláš. He does not visit children on Christmas Eve*, but rather on the night of December 5, the eve of his feast. Unlike his English-speaking counterpart, sv. Mikuláš is still a bishop who wears his miter and chasuble and carries a bishop’s crook. He is also accompanied by a devil, who doles out coal or potatoes to bad children (or even threatens to carry them off in his sack), and by an angel, who gives sweets and toys to good children. After answering questions about his or her behavior the past year, the child is supposed to recite a poem or sing a song, I suppose to purchase forgiveness.

Mikuláš and his companions traditionally visit households with small children. There are also public celebrations at Staroměstské náměstí and Náměstí Míru.

These pictures were taken at the Náměstí Míru celebration:

Caledonian School was soliciting teachers to dress up one of the trio to visit classes for children; my schedule did not permit me to do so, however. One of my students observed, though, that dressing up as the devil is much more popular than dressing as the angel. Not (only) for the obvious reason, but because it’s hard to reconcile the angel’s filmy robes with the season!

*It’s the Infant Jesus (Ježíšek) who delivers presents on Christmas Eve, and don’t you forget it! Even the most vocal atheist in Prague seems to have no compunction about, or to perceive any contradiction in, identifying Ježíšek as the source of Christmas gifts.

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