I am spending my second Christmas in Czech Republic this year. I have experienced it better this time because it’s no longer a foreign concept to me that the most important day of the Christmas celebrations falls on the 24th. I am pretty much accustomed to the cold weather which I came to combat! I even carried the old people electric belt that you put on your waist to warm up your body 🙂 I was super thrilled to see snow falling for my first time.
Czech Republic’s Christmas Markets are a big hit! There’s one at every corner you turn. Here you find all kinds of Czech traditional food, and hot drinks (even alcoholic like mulled wines), among local delicacies, to warm you up and lighten the burden of winter. Experiencing the Christmas Markets once again, and more for that matter, has been nothing short of magical and amazing! They embody the Christmas spirit of togetherness and sharing. Simple yet world class—Czech Christmas Markets were last year CNN voted among some of world’s best.
I love Pilzen Christmas Market for it has the most beautiful tree in Czech Republic (it actually won an accolade last year). Prague’s Market at the Old Town Square is fresh! It’s central location in the city also allows you to take a break from city errands and run over to warm up there when it gets a little cold during winter.
This time round, while at the market we discovered a little fancy shop called ‘Traditional Christmas Snails’ – only selling snails, oysters and champagne. You guessed it right – here is where I had my first snails and I must say – they were yummy!
Next snails to relish are the spicy Lagos ones – soon! This is a unique shop definitely standing out from the rest. The owner of the shop is a wonderful Czech man who took the video of my first snail bite. When in Prague over Christmas please look out for this shop.
We also traveled to Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic, after Prague, where we stayed for two days. We found out that their Christmas markets are by far the best! They’ve got more selection of hot drinks and street food. I really enjoyed Lokshe – it’s something like some type of Chapati which comes from Western Slovakia and Eastern Czech. It’s so yummy and made in potatoes, flour, oil, sauerkraut or jam with poppy seeds. They fry it just like a Chapati.
In Brno markets they even serve drinks in nice and tall plastic cups, and not like the paper cups ones elsewhere, so you get the cup and leave a deposit and then you can drop it off at any of the shops and get back your deposit or decide to keep it as a memorabilia.
In Brno, I also discovered world’s coolest bar – Super Panda Circus. I wrote about it – read here! Brno also has different Food Market away from the Christmas Markets – here only hotels and restaurants set up outside stands and shops, so here’s a place to discover more tastes and the spice of Brno.
As I blogged last year, 24th December is the most important day of Christmas in Czech Republic. We marked it the same way as last year and ate the same food – too yummy! I am actually bummed that you can only eat these dishes only on Christmas Lunch and Dinner. I love Christmas Tea and all the flavours it comes in – this is something I drink 24/7.
Yesterday, we went to Pilzen Main Square to check out the Christmas Carols performance at Pilzen’s famed Cathedral of St. Bartholomew – a hauntingly beautiful gothic 1295-built church that was included on the list of National Cultural Monuments of Czech Republic in 1995.
A Czech Christmas, like in most places in the world is also about the Christmas Tree. Walking in town, you meet all kinds of people from all walks of life carrying trees to their homes for Christmas celebrations. Traditionally Czechs must decorate the tree on the 24th, something I did with so much pleasure as I just haven’t decorated a tree in more than a decade …
There is so much attention to Christmas Trees here. As we traverse the streets of Prague and Brno, my partner, Tomas, and his brother, David, constantly point at clumsy Christmas Trees and very well-made ones, . Even the worst in their eyes is the best I’ve ever seen. More than life size Christmas Trees decorated in beautiful bright lights glare at us everywhere we go. Once along the Prague Castle tree we see a sign advertising a Christmas Decoration Contest with the tag line: “Everyone can decorate. Everyone will decorate.” It’s almost as if it’s not a perfect Christmas in Czech without a perfect tree. For me, the thought always counts and I find that people here are so thoughtful. In Kenya, in my village – Molo, we have used cotton wool on the Christmas Tree many times, to represent snow. Still – quite thoughtful 🙂
BONUS: Wish you all a Merry Christmas from wherever you are reading this!