Christmas at Toulcuv dvur - a magical place for children and their parents

16-12-2004

For those of you living in Prague with children, there is always something interesting to do at Toulcuv dvur, an environmental education centre for children. The aim of the centre is to teach children and their families about living in harmony with nature. Geese, sheep, goats and pigs are a few of the farm animals that can be found on site. They have over forty original programs about animals and the environment. Moreover, they highlight Czech folk traditions which are very much connected to rhythms of the natural world. This month they have been hosting special Christmas events.

Toulcuv dvur is a huge Baroque complex that used to be a sheep farm. The pastures surrounding the complex are now long gone- in their place one finds tall, grey panel apartment buildings. When you set foot on the property, you suddenly feel like you are in idyllic countryside. This week, there was a special event for parents and their children. Families could come and make candles, decorations, wrapping paper and enjoy a live performance by a children's folk dance group. I asked one mother why she had come to this event:

"I came because I have a small son and I would like to show him Czech traditions and it a good way to enjoy our spare time together, in a very nice and natural way"

Many of the programs have an environmental focus, is that important for you?

"Yes, definitely. I would to show my son that in life, it is the most important to protect the environment and to live naturally."

Toulcuv dvur is a special and unusual place in the Czech Republic. Children are given all sorts of hands on experiences of Czech folk traditions. The staff make a special effort to come up with innovative and exciting ways for the children to learn. During this family event, there was a little surprise waiting for the children. Outside, a candle-lined path led curious children to the oldest building in the complex.

The entrance of the building was cave-like. I slowly made my way down a set of candlelight stone steps. Once I made it down to the bottom, I came to a live nativity scene. Surrounded by straw, a man and a woman gazed over baby Jesus and sang ancient Christmas carols to us.

You may be wondering where this magical place is. Surprisingly, it is in Prague 10- Kubatova 1/32 and is easily accessible by public transportation. To find out about other events you can visit their web site at www.toulcuvdvur.cz.

16-12-2004