Prague Christmas markets? Bah humbug! says Girl in Czechland

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Prague Christmas Market 2012, Wenceslas Square

Apparently 21st December 2012 – in other words, today – is supposed to be the end of the world. It might seem that the apocalypse is nigh if you’re trailing around the shops trying to get your last minute Christmas shopping done.

For most of us the festive season means trying to find gifts for our nearest and dearest that they’ll really cherish for years to come.

Like socks.

For the city of Prague, December means the appearence of collections of wooden huts at the tourist hotspots like Wenceslas Square. These would be log cabins don’t signal a sudden invasion of lumberjacks (remember the Monty Python song?) but the arrival of the Christmas Markets.

Christmas market on Wenceslas Square 2012

I don’t like to be overly critical. But here’s the thing. The only good thing on sale on these stalls is svarak aka mulled (hot) wine.

Sausage stall selling mulled (hot) wine on Wenceslas Square

The rest of the merchandise on offer is pretty much identical to that sold in the gift shops only a few paces away.

Do yourself and your wallet a favour. Step away from the tourist trail and pay a visit to Holesovice instead.

Pražska tržnice is a huge market only one tram stop from Vltavska. It specialises in selling cheap mass produced goods mostly imported from China but the key difference from the cutesy stalls in Central Prague is that it isn’t pretending to be something that it isn’t.  Although there are some tourists to be found wandering around, this market is for locals. Come here to do a spot of shopping and you’re going to see a refreshingly different side of Prague.

Why not delight your child by buying them a brightly coloured plastic donkey?

What about something a little more practical? The snow might have stopped for the moment but it’s only a matter of time before the conditions turn arctic again. How about a furry hat to keep the cold at bay?

Men are always so difficult to buy for. Forget about the festive boxer shorts. What about a knuckleduster?

I’m particularly proud of the present I picked up for Czechman’s Dad just yesterday (not from any market but a proper shop):

Yes, it’s a battery operated singing carp: the perfect adornment for any Czech family’s cottage. It has a repetoire of two tunes: Don’t Worry, Be Happy (advice many Czechs could benefit from following) and Take Me To The River.

Hilarious stuff.  I’m sorry I won’t get to see the look on Czechman’s Dad’s face when he opens it. Will it be a look of horror or delight?

Back to those Christmas markets. Yes, they are a bit touristy and trashy but there is some fun to be had there. Just look at this Wenceslas Square Santa’s attempt to give the ladies a special surprise this Christmas. The picture’s a bit blurry but I think you get the idea:

 

I can’t finish this without sharing the news that I’ve recently been awarded a Silver Expat Blogs award in the Czech Republic category. A big thank you to all of you who left positive comments in support of my entry. Coming second means I did get my arse kicked by an American but hey, you can’t have everything…

Anyway, I’m off to finish packing for my flight to England. A Merry Christmas to you all dear readers: enjoy yourselves whether you dine on carp or turkey! Here’s a festive Czech tune to wrap your presents to:

11 Comments

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11 Responses to Prague Christmas markets? Bah humbug! says Girl in Czechland

  1. Marek

    Singing fish! Yeah… it will be look of horror, trust me :-D

  2. Lucy

    I agree. But: try the market at Náměstí Míru – it is the best Christmas market in Prague and the number of stalls selling tacky goods is really small. :)
    By the way, congrats for the award!

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Lucy,

      You’re right; the Namesti Miru one is one of the best. I like Old Town Square for the atmosphere too: you can’t make that place look ugly no matter how many little wooden stalls you stick on it!

      GIC

      • Lucy

        Old Town Square is quite pretty when you ignore the crowd. I like other markets at OTS much better (those other markets during the year).

        <3

  3. Přiznám se, že jsem nikdy na žádných vánočních trzích žádný dárek nekoupila. Ze stejných důvodů, o kterých píšeš :-)
    Chodím tam jen kvůli atmosféře Vánoc a zde v Olomouci zazvonit si na zvon (kvůli přání ;-)) a dát si horkou medovinu.

  4. Eleanor

    If you ignore the tat and only go for the food and drink, the Christmas markets are lovely.
    You should definitely have got the gold medal, Girl!!! Happy Christmas! Keep up the great posts in the New Year.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Eleanor,

      Sorry for the very slow response. I’m sure I’ll be drinking more svarak at the Christmas markets next year but right now I’m looking forward to spring – and learning to rollerblade (eek!)

      GIC

  5. Pavel

    Holešovická tržnice has some charm, but from shopping perspective it is black hole in this times. Most of asian goods is not only poor quality but often dangerous, czech shops have same prices like everywhere in Prague.
    Only good thing is český bramborák: although from frozen semi-product sell by ukraine hellcat still with marjoram and garlic the most czech product in all
    area. Also there is famous big erotic world (bordello if I can say) in the entrance. But athmosphere A1plus.
    Marry christmas and don´t forget get back :)

  6. Anninka

    Hello, Ms Girlova!
    Have you heard this czech song about winter? Quite hillarious for the natives who remember the winter of 06 when the weather conditions really were like those described in the song.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F__P3ajvbxE
    As for the carp: It used to be a decoration in an old fish restaurant in my city where me, my family and cousins ate, when I was about 8-9 years old. We used to sing along with the tunes in the restaurant ;-)

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