Christmas in Prague – a magical-sounding phrase. Prague was the third of four European cities with Christmas markets I visited in December.
The weather was seasonal, colder than we had in the northeastern U.S. at the time; no snow on the ground and clear, dry days.
The Christmas markets, open daily since mid-morning, looked their holiday best at night. Thousands of lights festooned the trees and market stalls; the live
stage put everyone in the mood as various groups took turns singing and St Nicholas and others played out scenes aimed at the children in the crowd.
Markets were busy during the day but come Friday night, people who had been working indoors all week clogged the streets and flooded the markets, queuing up at food stalls for sausage (klobasa), ham (šunka), grilled sweet dough called trdelník or trdlo and hot brews made from honey wine (medovino) or red wine (svařák).
Tiny tables, tall enough for standing (and no chairs anyway) provided space for chowing down. Dozens of glittering gift kiosks in each market were filled with trinkets, ornaments and foods to take home. Crowds were constant throughout the weekend, exuding happy energy.
Horses pulled carriages around the city and attracted all ages when they stopped to discharge one group and take a short break before starting off with the next one.
A small corral with a pony, lamb and a couple of goats mesmerized the children and kibble was available from a dispenser.
Each of the markets I visited had their own charms and, of course, common themes appeared in all of them. There are still Christmas markets in other cities and countries I’d like to visit, but next time I’ll probably bring a bigger suitcase. And an empty stomach.