“It’s the most wonderful time… of the year.” That’s right. 2019 is heading for the history books and it’s time to crank up the Christmas tunes, kids. We’re rapidly leaving Pumpkin Spice season in the rearview and heading full-speed toward Gingerbread Latte time and, in Prague, there is perhaps no better symbol that the holidays have arrived than the selection of the Christmas Tree for Old Town Square… and that selection has officially been announced!
This years’ symbolic Christmas tree comes from the village of Semily in the Liberec Region of Northern Bohemia. The tree, a 24 meter (78 plus-foot) Norway Spruce, was one of nearly 50 trees submitted by members of the public for consideration… and the lucky person who recommended the selected tree will be receiving a nice early Christmas gift: 10,000 crowns!
Lest you worry that Taiko, the company that runs the Christmas markets in Prague, would cut down a perfectly healthy tree… fear not. They only accept trees that are already set for removal for one reason or another while also making sure that the tree is healthy enough to survive the festivities.
This particular tree, says Petr Hozák of Taiko, comes from “a private garden,” and he noted that it has “wonderful branches.” It’ll definitely need them for all the decorations that’ll be hung on it.
You can also rest assured that, after its duty as the centerpiece of the Old Town holiday festivities, it will be properly recycled and re-used in some form.
If you’re new to the city and haven’t had a chance to experience the Christmas markets, you’re in for a treat as they really set the tone for the season and it’s tons of fun to wander the stalls, stock up on ornaments or other decorations while sipping hot cider or mulled wine, listening to Christmas carols (sung by local schoolchildren on the stage near the tree), and even enjoying some delicious food.
Oh… the food! Popular choices include ham roasted on spits (Pražská Šunka), Barbequed sausages (klobása), Hungarian flatbread with garlic (so much garlic!), cheese and ketchup (langoš), crepes (palačinky), and a variety of other sweets and cakes.
In addition to the Old Town Square market, there are other markets (and smaller trees) at Wenceslas Square, Naměsti Míru, Kampa Island, and on the square in from to the St. George’s Basilica atop the hill by the Prague Castle.
The Old Town Square Christmas Market will open at the end of the month (November 30th), and the tree will remain on display until January 5th of 2020. They first light the Old Town Square tree each day at 4:30pm and repeat the lighting ceremony hourly until 9:30pm. The tree in Wenceslas Square lights up at 5:00pm each day… so you could watch the Old Town Square lighting and hop over to Wenceslas to catch that one.
So, get out your hats and mittens, cuddle up to your friend or partner, and head for Old Town Square on the 30th! If you love the holiday season, you certainly won’t be disappointed and, if you haven’t yet, you may just fall in love with Christmas in Prague.