Czech Christmas Eve and Christmas are celebrated on December 24th and 25th, respectively. While this special holiday is celebrated with family, visitors to the Czech Republic can also enjoy public Christmas festivities, like the Christmas tree in Old Town Prague and the famous Prague Christmas Market.
Visitors to Prague can enjoy live nativity scenes, ice skating, and other Czech Christmas traditions if they visit prior to or during this holiday.
Before Christmas, live carp are available for purchase. This Czech Christmas tradition is one that the visitor will certainly notice, even if he or she can't take one of the fish home and cook it!
Christmas Eve in the Czech Republic is celebrated with a feast. The carp, which was purchased prior to this day and which may have been kept alive in the bathtub until ready for cooking, is the featured dish.
The Christmas tree is decorated on Christmas Eve. Traditionally, the tree was decorated with apples and sweets, as well as traditional ornaments. Today, commercially purchased Christmas ornaments may be used to decorated the Czech Christmas tree.
It is Baby Jesus (Ježíšek) rather than Santa Claus who brings children presents on Christmas Eve. Baby Jesus is said to reside high in the mountains, in the town of Boží Dar, where a post office accepts and stamps letters addressed t him.
On Christmas Eve, children leave the room where the Christmas tree has been put up until they hear the tinkle of a bell (rung by parents) indicating that Baby Jesus has come with gifts.
St. Mikulas, or St. Nicholas, also brings gifts, but in the beginning of December, on St. Mikulas Day. St. Mikulas is dressed like a bishop in white clothing, rather than in the red Santa suit we are familiar with.
Christmas Eve may culminate with midnight mass, or the family may go to mass on Christmas Day, then enjoy the noon meal together.