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Prague Christmas 2017

Christmas Eve » 24 December 2017

Christmas Eve is the most festive day of Christmas in the Czech Republic. People spend the day with their family, and in the evening give presents and enjoy their traditional Christmas dinner. Merry Christmas to one and all: Veselé Vánoce!

Christmas Tree at the Old Town Square in PragueChristmas Eve in Prague
Christmas Eve is effectively Christmas Day for Czechs, a day most people spend at home with their family.

With fewer people around, this is a wonderfully peaceful day to explore Prague, especially as the squares are often dusted with snow or a heavy frost, giving the city a real 'olden day' charm.

For visitors, there is still plenty of sightseeing and entertainment to participate in. But hours are limited and only a small number of shops, bars and restaurants are open, so it takes a little planning.
Planning for Christmas Eve
The Christmas markets are open all day, from 10am to 10pm.

Sightseeing and walking tours of Prague run in the morning and early afternoon, but there are no excursions outside Prague. The lunch cruise is the only river cruise operating - sightseeing in Prague.

Most theatres are closed. Instead, in the afternoon and early evening there are some wonderful festive concerts at churches and in other historic buildings - classical concerts.

Many restaurants are closed, and those that do open have limited opening hours, so we strongly advise making a reservation (most restaurants will be booked out nearer the date). See what menus are available and make reservations via our Christmas Planner.

In the afternoon, some churches hold a Christmas Mass at 16:00 for children.

An afternoon mass is held at Tyn Church at the Old Town Square at 16:30. Entrance is free, just turn up. Arrive early.

An open-air Christmas Mass is held on the stage at the Old Town Square at 21:00. Entrance is free, just turn up.

A Midnight Mass is held at Strahov Monastery and at other churches around Prague. Entrance is free, just turn up.

For detailed information on what is open and when on Christmas Eve, and to book restaurants, sightseeing and entertainment, see our Prague Christmas Planner.
Traditional Czech family Christmas
To discover what a traditional Czech Christmas is, one has to naturally look at the family and at food.

Czechs spend the afternoon of Christmas Eve at home, dressing the Christmas tree and preparing food for the evening celebrations.

During the day, Czechs traditionally are not allowed to eat meat. Instead, they eat a dish such as sauerkraut soup. This ensures they will see the golden piglet (bringing them wealth in the year ahead). This lasts until after sunset, when Christmas dinner is served.
Xmas candles
A traditional Czech Christmas meal
Carp is the central ingredient of a Czech Christmas dinner. The fish is typically bought live from street sellers in towns and villages around the country in the days running up to Christmas - in Prague carp is sold on Republic Square (Namesti republiky) for example.

The fish is brought home, often stored in the bath, then prepared, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried. It is served with potato salad as the main course.

Fish soup is the starter, with apple strudel or Christmas sweetbread (vánočka) for dessert.
After dinner, presents are brought by Jezisek (little Jesus). When the family moves from the dining room to the lounge, the children are amazed that presents have magically appeared under the Christmas tree while they were eating, and without anyone noticing!

Later on, once the presents are open and with a nicely dressed Christmas tree in the corner, the evening is spent playing games, watching traditional children's stories on television and chatting.
Xmas decorations
 
There is always a good supply of home-made pastries and snacks to enjoy throughout the evening. Plus for adults, plenty of Czech beer, wines and local spirits!

Later on, families may attend midnight mass at their local church.

If you would like to try a traditional Czech Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve in Prague, we list restaurants that offer it in our Prague Christmas Planner.

Prague InformationChristmas 2017
HIGHLIGHTS
Christmas Markets at Old Town Sq. & Wenceslas Sq.
02 Dec-06 Jan:
Daily 10:00-22:00.
more info
Christmas Markets at Prague Castle.
24 Nov-06 Jan:
Mon-Fri 9:00-21:00.
Sat-Sun 9:00-22:00.
more info
Lighting of the Christmas Tree
at Old Town Sq.
02 Dec: 17:30.
Mikulas Day
at Old Town Sq.
05 Dec: 16:00-18:00.
more info
Ice Rink
at Ovocny trh (behind Estates Theatre), Old Town.
05 Dec-31 Jan:
Daily 10:00-21:00.
more info
Christmas Eve
24 Dec:
16:00 Christmas Mass for children at some churches.
16:30 Christmas Mass at Tyn Church.
21:00 Open-air Christmas Mass at Old Town Sq.
24:00 Midnight Mass at Strahov Monastery and other churches.
more info
Christmas Planner
24-26 Dec:
What's open over Christmas.
more info
New Year's Eve
31 Dec: Celebrations & fireworks.
more info

Prague Experience: Christmas in the Czech Republic

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