Christmas Markets

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.

Open November 29th through January 11th, Prague's Christmas Market fills Old Town Square and spills over to Wenceslas Square (yep, that Wenceslas)
Open November 29th through January 11th, Prague’s Christmas Market fills Old Town Square and spills over to Wenceslas Square (yep, that Wenceslas)
Old Town Square is home to a very famous astronomical clock
Old Town Square is home to a very famous astronomical clock
The top face represents the positions of the sun, moon, and interesting constellations...
The top face represents the positions of the sun, moon, and interesting constellations…
...while the bottom face shows the month, with a symbol representing each.
…while the bottom face shows the month, with a symbol representing each.
The building itself is very gothic and imposing, standing across the square from the Church of our Lady Before Tyn
The building itself is very gothic and imposing, standing across the square from the Church of our Lady Before Tyn

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.

Sicily has a Christmas Witch - La Befana.  Leave your shoes outside on January 5, and she'll fill them with candy.  I wonder what the Christmas Witch tradition is here?
Sicily has a Christmas Witch – La Befana. Leave your shoes outside on January 5, and she’ll fill them with candy. I wonder what the Christmas Witch tradition is here?
This is Krtek, a mole, and quite the local celebrity.  Everybody wanted us to have a Krtek, even the hotel.  Somehow, I resisted.  He is kind of a happy, adorable little guy though.
This is Krtek, a mole, and quite the local celebrity. Everybody wanted us to have a Krtek, even the hotel. Somehow, I resisted. He is kind of a happy, adorable little guy though.
Trdelnik being baked over an open fire.  They pull it off the spindle and roll it again in sugar right when you buy it, making it warm and sugary sweet.
Trdelnik being baked over an open fire. They pull it off the spindle and roll it again in sugar right when you buy it, making it warm and sugary sweet.

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.

Hot wine, mulled wine, gluhvein, or svarak.  Welcome warmth on a cold afternoon.
Hot wine, mulled wine, in German called gluhvein, or in Czech, svarak. Welcome warmth on a cold afternoon.

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.

No Christmas market would be complete without a Christmas tree
No Christmas market would be complete without a Christmas tree
Even at $3, they're more than twice as good as Costco hot dogs, easily
Even at $3, they’re more than twice as good as Costco hot dogs, easily.  I should know, I ate two!
The smell of these sausages was amazing
The smell of these sausages was amazing
Roasting a ham over an open fire
Roasting a ham over an open fire
All sorts of things for sale here
All sorts of things for sale
I love how colorful all the buildings are here!
I love how colorful all the buildings are here!

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.

Chirstmas Market at night
Chirstmas Market at night
Christmas Tree at night
Ugh, why didn’t I point the camera just a little higher?

I don’t know about you, but I think the Czechs got Christmas right.

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