Guest Author - Ann Carroll Burgess
Are you looking for a place where Christmas is celebrated in a more low key fashion? Where the spirit of the season revolves around music, community and handcrafts? Christmas in the Czech Republic may be your answer.
Even if you canít get away for December 25, it is good to know that the Christmas Markets and holiday festivities begin at the first of December and last through to the New Year.
The Czech Republic is famous for is outdoor markets, nativity scenes, some with live animals, and abundant food and music.
During the holiday season the museums and castles of the Czech Republic all seem to work in concert with a common objective of celebrating the traditions of Christmases past and present.
The holiday markets generally open in conjunction with the celebration of Advent. The largest, the Prague Christmas Fair, begins December 1 and takes over both the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square until January 1.
The markets are a perfect place to buy a unique hand made gifts. Traditional wares being sold in the market include corn dolls, straw decorations, scented candles and lots of hand-made knit items such as hats and mittens.
Donít fill up on a big lunch or dinner before heading to a market because there will be oodles and oodles of Christmas snacks to buy and sample. Hot punch, aromatic mead, roasted chestnuts and corn on the cob are just a few of the delights available in the stalls.
The Czech Republic is a great place to buy a traditional Nativity scene. The tradition of creating these dates to the 16th century and they can be made from wood, paper, ceramics, gingerbread, and yes, even plastic. To view the granddaddy of all Nativity scenes plan a visit to the museum in Jindrichuv Hradec (www.museum.esnet.cz) as it houses one of the largest mechanical Nativity scenes in the world. It took more than 60 years to complete this undertaking and holds almost 1400 figures.
To celebrate in true small town style head for Cesky Krumlov about an hour and a half from Prague. This is one of the most attractive towns in all of the Czech Republic and has been designated a Unesco Ėlisted town. It is a fairy tale village of beautiful proportions and a more magical destination would be difficult to find. The festivities kick off with the lighting of the town Christmas tree at the beginning of Advent.
If you need a little Christmas past in your Christmas present , the Czech Republic may be just the place to celebrate before the holiday. Stroll through the city and country markets at night under starry or snow-sprinkled skies and remember all that Christmas can be.