’Tis the season to celebrate in Prague

Before November was over, the garlands were going up and the holiday decorations were appearing in store windows. Sometimes, the best part of studying abroad is witnessing a familiar holiday through a new cultural lens. Here’s a look at some of the best, and most interesting holiday events in Prague. 

Christmas Markets

By far, the biggest appeal of Prague during the holiday season is its Christmas markets. Set up in late November, these beautiful markets showcase traditional Central European food—such as barbecue sausage, pork roasted on a spit and doughy sweet trdelník—as well as toys and gifts. 

Scattered throughout the city, they offer some of the most festive locations to get your holiday shopping done. Running until the end of the month, the largest markets are located in Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) and  Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí), but there smaller ones at Náměstí Republiky, Náměstí Míru and Výstaviště Holešovice. Each spot has its own Christmas tree and the squares are lit up once it’s dark. When you need a break from buying ornaments or purpura (Czech potpourri), defrost your hands on some mulled wine or hot chocolate and listen to carolers. Then back to that gift list! 

St. Nicholas Day 

Think you made St. Nicholas’ good list this year? Head to Old Town on December 5 to find out! Between 5 and 8p.m. St. Nicholas, the angel and the devil roam the square asking children if they’ve been naughty or nice in the past year. Good children often sing a song or recite a poem to receive candy from the cheerful saint. Bad kids are supposedly put in the devil’s sack and dragged to hell, or just receive a sack of potatoes or coal. Let’s hope you’ve been good! 

Pagan Christmas 

With a plethora of Christmas events in Prague, one might wonder: What about the times before Christianity? Bethlehem Chapel has you covered. Located a short walk away from Old Town Square, this chapel will be featuring a new exhibit called “A Pagan Christmas,” exploring the polytheistic practices that pre-date the birth of Jesus Christ. It runs until January 3, so you have time even after the holidays to brush up on your history.

The Nutcracker 

Christmas without The Nutcracker is like bread without butter. The classic ballet comes to the National Theater in late November and continues through January. Take a break from your Finance or Marketing studies and celebrate the season in style with Clara as she enters into the Land of Sweets and battles the Mouse King. 

Menorah 

While Christians are celebrating their holiday, we can’t forget the Festival of Lights. This year Hanukkah begins on December 24 and ends on January 1. In addition to the traditional services offered in synagogues around town, the Rudolfinum will honor the eight-day holiday by placing a giant menorah near the concert hall and lighting a candle for each day until the last Sunday. 

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