Nothing says Christmas magic like large groups of people gathered in the streets to sing Christmas carols. I had never experienced anything like the beauty of the voices of Prague!
Before starting my Christmas trip to one of Europe’s most romantic cities, I of course did my research. I knew that there would be Christmas carols under the Charles Bridge and classical music Christmas concerts in the church – I never expected anything like the crowds on the street! I never expected the experience either, and it was such an amazing experience to be a part of. People came from all directions to join in – the locals bringing their own sheet music, many in books that were bound and worn from what could only be a strong tradition of carolling! Kids were running around, excitement in their faces as they squeezed their way to the front. Behind the crowds, a nativity scene was set up in the square.
The sense of the festive season was moving. There were kids running around, vendors selling hot mulled wine on the street, and crowds so thick you couldn’t move! The stairs and all along Charles Bridge was packed with people. While I couldn’t sing along – after all, I don’t speak Czech – it was captivating to be a part of it all.
The Czech Republic has a tradition of carolling. Historically, groups of people used to go carolling during severe winter periods as a means of improving their situation. These groups often comprised of children, shepherds, school masters etc… Affluent farmers would present them with gifts of food. Today, carolling is a form of socializing, a coming together to sing traditional songs about the rebirth of hope and light, revitalizing the nostalgia of days gone by at such a festive time of year. The atmosphere under the Charles Bridge, and all over the city of Prague was, in a word – Christmas!
When the carols were over, people brought out sparklers and tea light candles and wished each other happy holidays. One woman passed a bag of candles through the crowd – it was such a kind and genuine gesture – I was thrilled to be able to be a part of it all!
Should you find yourself in Prague at Christmas, there are outbreaks of Christmas carols around the Charles Bridge – go on down and enjoy!
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