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Christmas in Prague, from "Prague for Beginners" by Sara Tusek

For the rest of the day I pack for my trip and tidy up the flat. I turn on the radio for Czech Christmas music; my favorites are “Narodil se Kristus Pán” (Christ is born) and “Nesem Vám noviny” (We bring you good news, hark!). The time passes pleasantly as I bustle around, my mind occupied with the here and now of fitting everything into my suitcase and cleaning out the perishables in the kitchen.

Soon enough, the light begins to fade. I decide it’s time for me to get out of my flat and see what Prague is up to today. I dress warmly and descend once again to the street, this time turning left as I leave the apartment house. In a few minutes I’m at náměstí Republiky. There are tasteful Christmas decorations on the lampposts and doors, greenery and red, shiny balls mostly. The cold, crisp air encourages people to hurry as they walk, giving the scene a busy, happy mood. I go down crooked streets through the intimate square behind Týn Cathedral that Marek tells me it was a dump, a literal…

from my book, "Prague for Beginners": Svatý Mikuláš Day, Dec. 5

Today is December 5, St. Nicholas Day (Svatý Mikuláš), the day that the Czechs get Santa Klaus (St. Nicholas) out of the way. For the rest of the lead-up to Christmas, it’s all about Jesus, who gives little kids their presents as Ježíšek. He comes in the window, as better befits a baby than coming down a sooty chimney. There’s a bonus on Svatý Mikuláš Day: in addition to Santa Klaus, you also get Čert (the devil) and Anděl (an angel).

Last year on December 5, I had recently arrived in Prague and was still completely enchanted by the city. Imagine how it seemed when, on a snowy evening just as dusk was falling, I walked near a school and heard a bell tinkling. When I looked for the bell, I saw three figures on the sidewalk: a huge Svatý Mikuláš dressed in red velvet, with a tall red Bishop’s hat, hurrying along with a black devil with a big red ruffle around his face and a lovely blonde angel dressed all in white. I did a double-take; of course I could see these were people dressed up i…

Nejhezčí České Vánoční Koledy - Stylově!

"The Czechs do Christmas better than anyone. It starts in November, with Advent markets and celebrations everywhere. Traditional food, little hand-made gifts, folk music, and dance done in folk costumes: the Czechs have it all. By December 1st, you are absolutely panting for Christmas, and the Czechs keep bringing it on."--from Prague for Beginners.

In Prague for Beginners, the main character is Elizabeth, an American living in 1994 post-Velvet Revolution Prague. She teaches English, an easy gig in those years when everyone was eager to absorb the big world that had been closed to them during Communist rule (1948-1989).

Elizabeth is enchanted by the mysteries of the city on the Vltava (and by a certain Chech man whose coming and goings in her life both excite and irritate here). She is knocked over by the glories of a traditional Czech Christmas.