The Christmas markets are probably the primary reason we went to Prague. Central Europe still celebrates all twelve days of Christmas, so we had one more day of market once we’d arrived. We definitely had to check it out.
Held in Old Town Square, the markets are a spectacle of sights and delicious smells. Small shacks had been set up for shopowners to sell trinkets and hot mulled wine. Some shops were grilling sausages that smelled wonderful and tasted even better. Others were making a local dessert called trdelnik, almost like a cinnamon roll but made with vanilla and almonds, and not goopy. Served hot, they were very good but very sweet and sugary. It was fun watching them being made.
The hot mulled wine was an interesting drink. It was seasoned with cinnamon and cloves and other spices, and the warmth of the drink spread all throughout my body as I drank. It tasted a lot like wassail, something my mom used to make around Christmas, though the wine added a tanginess that was new to me.
In the center of the square was a tremendous Christmas tree, still lit up and sparkling when most everything in America would have been taken down. At one end of the square stood a large, old astronomical clock that showed the alignment of the constellations. The whole place felt like a different world, as if I could return here in July and it would somehow still be Winter and still be Christmas.
Hundreds of people – tourists and locals alike – crowded the square eating their trdelnik and sausages and drinking their hot wine. Children ran laps around the Christmas tree. Evening fell and the lights shone brighter and brighter.
I don’t know about you, but I think the Czechs got Christmas right.