Few people know that Good King Wenceslas, one of the best-known Christmas carols in the English-speaking world sung on the Feast of Saint Stephen, refers to a Bohemian duke who ruled in the 10th century. Good King Wenceslas is none other than St. Václav, the patron saint of the Czech nation. Paradoxically, the carol is almost unknown in this country.
Some two fifths of Czechs are planning to visit a church over Christmas,
even if they don’t regard themselves as Christians, suggests a survey by
the STEM agency released on Thursday.
According to the poll, less than one tenth of Czechs attend a church at least once a month.
Around 33 percent of respondents said they believe in God, a six-percentage point drop compared to 1995, when the agency carried out the first such poll.
The NGO People in Need is active in more than 30 countries the world over, giving immediate aid in humanitarian crises, helping communities threatened by malnutrition, helping the poor to find a livelihood, fighting violence against women and helping give children an education. One of its successful fundraising projects is Give a Real Gift which motivates thousands of people to think of those less fortunate not only during the Christmas season. I spoke with Jan Svitalek of People in Need and began by asking him to explain the NGO’s Real Gift
Hundreds of people gathered on Prague’s Old Town Square on Saturday
afternoon for the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony, marking the
start of Advent and the opening of the city’s biggest Christmas market.
The lighting ceremony of the 22-metre tall spruce felled near Křivoklát, South Bohemia, was enhanced by a selection from Bedrich Smetana’s cycle of symphonic poems My Country. Visitors will find 99 stalls on Old Town Square and three Nativity scenes, one of which is live.
The Christmas market offers visitors a rich cultural program with some 700 performers appearing on stage in the course of the next three weeks.
Among the Advent events that reflect the true spirit of Christmas is the annual Charity Advent Market organized by the Fund Act For Others. Now in its fourth year, the market is organized by international team of dedicated enthusiasts who give it a multicultural flair. A visit to the three day-event at Prague’s Mala Strana will bring you joy ahead of Christmas and enable the fund to help the needy. I spoke to founder and event manager of Act for Others Melanie Schilling about what the market, which opens at the Maltese Palace on Friday, will offer
A 22-metre tall spruce felled near Křivoklat, South Bohemia, has gone up
on Prague’s Old Town Square for Christmas. This year’s Christmas tree
on the square grew for 66 years.
It will be decorated and illuminated for the first time on Saturday, December 2, to mark the opening of the Christmas market. Last year, the ceremony was seen by 12,000 people.
The first wine of the season, the so-called Saint Martin’s wine, goes on
sale on Saturday in the Czech Republic. Czechs are celebrating the Feast of
Saint Martin, which falls on November 11 and which has become an occasion
for winemakers to present their young wines.
Events featuring wine tasting are traditionally held at various venues around the country. This year, the main event takes place on Freedom Square in Bnro. In Prague, festivities will be traditionally held in Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad and the Rašínovo nábřeží embankment. This year, sellers expect around 2.2 million bottles of Saint Martin’s to go on the market, which is a slight drop on the previous year.
Ježíšek’s grandchildren ( Santa’s grandchildren) is the name of a nationwide charity project launched by Czech Radio. It aims to bring a smile to the faces of abandoned, elderly, people who have no family and friends to cheer them up. The aim is to encourage members of the public to grant these people a wish as a special Christmas gift in a scheme that should interconnect generations and revive the true spirit of Christmas. I spoke to Marietta Prajslerová, one of the project organizers at Czech Radio, about what it involves and how the idea
U.S. News & World Report has just rated Prague as their Best Christmas Vacation, beating out nearby Vienna, which came in second, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was ranked third. Described as a “winter wonderland you’ve got to see to believe”, the publication also praised the Czech capital’s increasingly famous seasonal markets. I asked Barbora Hrubá of Prague City Tourism, the body which promotes the capital city, to present her pitch for why Prague is being lauded as a Christmas destination: