November in Prague

Vltava looking toward Hradcany, from Vysehrad

November is not the most cheerful month in Prague, weather-wise. The temperature hovers around the freezing mark (0 degrees Celsius), the skies are often overcast, and the air is damp.

The Basilica and Royal Collegiate Church of St Peter and St Paul at Vysehrad
Bazilika svatého Petra a Pavla
Somehow the grey skies, chill air, and still winds of November reflect a particular part of the history of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia: the stoic endurance of not-quite-perfect conditions. For many centuries after the Golden Age of Charles IV in the 14th century, this part of the world was the scene of civil wars, religious wars, invasions, conquests, and lack of political autonomy.

But the people did not give in or give up. In their hearts, they remembered their glorious past and hoped for a restoration of those days in which beauty was created, not suppressed or destroyed.

Prague is a living museum to the achievements of the people living here over the centuries: Czech, Slovak, Polish, Moravian, German, Vietnamese, Silesian, Jewish, Roma, Rusyn, Hungarian, Russian, Romanian, Croatian, Serb, and so many more (even the occasional American!).

Although today the country seems homogeneous, with just 10.5 million people, of whom 90% consider themselves Czech, it has the same mixed heritage as most countries. Migrations, forced relocations, and changing ethnic identities have all contributed to the current vigorous mix.

November seems gloomy most days. There is little sunshine and not even the visual beauty of a pristine snowfall.

Leopoldova brána (Leopold Gate)
But the hints of Advent and Christmas, just around the corner, are there for the alert to see,

And soon the jolliness and festivity of the Season of Joy will spring to life in Prague.

Staroměstské náměstí Christmas fair


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