Christmas Eve » 24th December 2021
Christmas Eve is the most festive day of Christmas in Prague and the Czech Republic. People spend the day at home with their family, and in the evening give presents and enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner. Merry Christmas to one and all: Veselé Vánoce!
Christmas Eve in Prague
Christmas Eve (24th December) is the main day of Christmas for Czech people.
With fewer people around, it is a wonderfully peaceful time to explore Prague, and can be especially charming if the squares are dusted with snow or a heavy frost, giving the city a real 'olden day' charm.
There is entertainment and sightseeing to enjoy, but operating hours are limited and only certain restaurants and shops are open, so the day takes a little planning.
|Nutcracker at Hybernia Theatre||
||For dining, many restaurants close completely, while those that remain open have limited opening hours. So it is advisable to make reservations for both lunch and dinner, as most places book out in advance.|
The atmosphere in most restaurants is one of quiet, festive celebration.
However, if you are looking for musical entertainment while you dine, Café Mozart has a live guitar and violin duo (and traditional Czech dinner).
For something a bit more rowdy (hearty food, free flowing drinks, live music and entertainment), the Medieval Tavern is putting on two shows.
You can see what restaurants are open, read the menus, and make bookings via our Prague Christmas Planner.
| Some churches hold an afternoon Christmas mass for children, normally at 16:00.|
Tyn Church at the Old Town Square has a mass 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 in Prague, and to book restaurants, entertainment and sightseeing, see the 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.
Czech people generally 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 will eat something like 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.
||Carp is the central ingredient of a Czech Christmas dinner. The fish is typically bought live from street sellers in the days running up to Christmas or on Christmas Eve morning - to see carp on sale in central Prague, go to Republic Square (Namesti republiky).
The carp is brought home and stored, often in the bath, until it is time to cook.
On Christmas Eve afternoon, the fish is prepared, coated in breadcrumbs, then fried.
It is served with potato salad as the main course.
Fish soup (rybí polévka) forms the starter, with apple strudel or Christmas sweetbread (vánočka) for dessert.
|Presents are brought by Jezisek (little Jesus), not by Father Christmas or Santa Claus.|
No-one knows what Jezisek looks like or how he does it, but after dinner when the family moves from the dining room to the lounge, presents will have magically appeared under the Christmas tree while they were eating, without anyone noticing! Children are amazed at how it happens, but that is the wonder of Christmas.
| With the presents open and a beautifully dressed tree in the corner, the evening is spent playing games, chatting, and watching films based on children's fairy tales - the stories, which emanate from Central Europe and Russia, form an important part of Christmas.|
||Most Czech families will bake home-made biscuits (Vánoční cukroví) and prepare a variety of small open sandwiches (chlebíčky) in the lead up to Christmas.|
These are brought out in the evening of Christmas Eve. For adults there is also a good supply of Czech beer, wines and local spirits (Slivovica, Becherovka and Fernet Stock)!
Later on, families may attend midnight mass at their local church.
| If you are spending Christmas in Prague and would like to try a traditional Czech Christmas dinner, we list the restaurants that offer it in the Christmas Planner.|
Old Town Square & Wenceslas Square
27 Nov-06 Jan
Old Town Square
Old Town Square
05 Dec 2021
24 Dec 2021
-16:00 Christmas Mass for children at various churches
-16:30 Christmas Mass at Tyn Church
-21:00 Open-air Christmas Mass at Old Town Square
-24:00 Midnight Mass at Strahov & other churches
24-26 Dec 2021
What's open over Christmas: Dining, entertainment & sightseeing
Ovocny trh (square behind Estates Theatre), Old Town
05 Dec-31 Jan
Na Frantisku Sports Centre, Old Town
05 Dec-31 Jan
|NEW YEAR'S EVE|
31 Dec 2021
Festivities & Fireworks