Christmas Markets in West/Prague

There are so many things going on this month that I could write about from Czech organization Christmas parties to food at family gatherings. But because there's so much going on, I have little time to write. Trying to create Christmas memories for two boys and juggle a full time job and time-consuming hobbies is really bearing down on me this year. I'm going to do several posts in the next two weeks that may have lots of photos but less in-depth writing. This is the first.

In 2008, my mother, brother and I traveled to the Czech Republic in December to visit relatives and friends and to shop the Prague Christmas markets. The market on the Old Town Square was spectacular, made more so because we were there on the eve of St. Nicholas Day. The photo above is an outdoor stage where there were singing groups, bands and skits.  Below is a photo of a man in the square dressed as an unofficial St. Nicholas. Besides the kiosks with traditional food (palacinky, sausages, cookies, mulled wine), there were booths of toys and other gifts, a petting zoo, and the biggest pine tree you've ever seen outside of a forest. Here's a YouTube video someone posted of the market the year I was there.

So, I was very excited to read in the Vestnik that the town of West created what they called a "Czechmas Merry Market" modeled on Prague's Christmas market. This was their first year to hold the event and I went Saturday, the 8th on their second weekend to be open. Driving into West, we were greeted  by women in white t-shirts and Santa hats waving and holding signs that said Merry Christmas. I wasn't sure what to expect of the market. I was a little biased since I'd been to the markets in Prague and thought they were so wonderful. The West market was inside, not out. And the food was served only in local restaurants as opposed to street booths in Prague.

Entrance to the Czechmas Merry Market in the Best Theater Building in downtown West.

Above - Window painting across from the Village Bakery showing the Christmas Market in the Old Town Square in Prague. 

At right - inside the Merry Market. There were actually two locations. Both had booths of gifts, jewelry, beauty products, religious items, and some Czech merchandise.
Below are photos of signs from West (on the left) and the Prague market (on right), showing St. Nicholas and his companions, the angel and the devil. 

I hope there's an attempt to add traditional music somehow next year. There was actually an accordion player playing inside the Village Bakery when we visited for a kolach before walking to the Market. His waltzes and Christmas carols would have been perfect there. But I thought the whole endeavor was a very noble first attempt for the community and would encourage people to visit next year. The window paintings were so sweet. The Market itself was festive and people were kind and enthusiastic. The local restaurants had Czech food specials running... even the Leo's Mexican Restaurant offered a burrito that had sausage and sauerkraut in it. St. Nicholas made visits, too, but we weren't there at the right time. I'll plan to go back next year for lunch at the Czech-American Restaurant and some shopping.


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