Christmas Eve » 24th December 2016
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 Eve in Prague|
Christmas Eve is effectively Christmas Day for Czech people, a day most Czechs 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 sightseeing and plenty of activities and entertainment on offer. 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 tours and walking tours run in the morning only - Sightseeing in Prague.
Many restaurants are closed, and those that are open have limited opening hours, so we strongly advise making a reservation (most restaurants will be booked out nearer the date). You can see what menus are available and make a restaurant reservation via our Christmas Planner.
In the afternoon and early evening there are festive concerts to attend at churches and in other historic buildings - classical concerts.
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 with their family, dressing the Christmas tree and preparing food for the evening celebrations.
Throughout the day on Christmas Eve, Czechs traditionally are not allowed to have any meat, but eat a dish such as sauerkraut soup. This will ensure they see the golden piglet (which will bring them wealth). It lasts until Christmas dinner is served, after sunset.
Carp is the central ingredient of a Czech Christmas dinner. The fish is typically bought live from street sellers in towns and villages throughout the country in the days running up to Christmas Eve - in Prague you can see carp for sale at stalls on Republic Square (Namesti republiky) for example.
The fish is taken home, prepared, coated in breadcrumbs, then 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, the family's presents are brought by Jezisek (little Jesus).
As the family moves from the dining room to the lounge, the children are amazed to see 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.
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, selected restaurants serve their own version of it. We state which restaurants offer it in our Prague Christmas Planner.
26th Nov-01st Jan:
Old Town Square & Wenceslas Square.
|Lighting of the Christmas Tree|
around 17:00 at Old Town Square.
from 16:00 at Old Town Square.
05th Dec-31st Jan:
Ovocny trh (behind Estates Theatre), Old Town.
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 Square.
24:00 Midnight Mass at Strahov Monastery and other churches.
What's open and when at Christmas.
|New Year's Eve|
31st Dec: Celebrations & midnight fireworks.