Christmas Market at Prague’s Old Town Square

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Prague's Old Town Christmas Market in the early stages of being set up. Flickr/Jennie Douglas
Prague’s Old Town Christmas Market in the early stages of setup. Flickr/Jennie Douglas

It was November and the wooden stalls for the Christmas Market were being set up in the Staroměstské Náměstí, or Prague’s Old Town Square. Little pings came from hammers attaching holly and mistletoe to the wooden stalls.

A line of horse and buggies stood on the sidelines patiently waiting for fares. Their drivers, sporting top hats, were perusing the daily newspapers. Schoolchildren, led by their teacher, filed by in single lines. A lone sweeper was cleaning debris off the cobblestones.

A horse-drawn carriage. Photo by Wynne Crombie
A horse-drawn carriage. Photo by Wynne Crombie

Pretzel and cotton candy sellers were doing a brisk business. At their feet, pigeons were busy picking up crumbs on the cobblestone. At the food stalls, vendors were clad in winter gear as similarly dressed visitors and locals sampled their goods.

Sausages and hams were slowly turning on spits while over at the waffle stand, a waft of delectable air was coming up from the waffle irons as customers waited their turn.

The Palacinky stall was is full throttle. These very thin pancakes are similar to crepes with a fruit filling and powdered sugar on the top. Today, the vendor was bundled up in a red sweatshirt with CREPES PALACINKY written across the front. A scarf, tied around her mouth, kept her face warm.

One of the stalls at the market. Photo by Wynne Crombie
One of the stalls at the market. Photo by Wynne Crombie

In the adjoining stall, the Lango vender was rubbing his bare hands together against the cold. Langos is a pancake-shaped fried dough snack usually covered with powdered sugar. It’s a Slovakian street vendor favorite. Other sugary delights we tried included a Trdelník, the hot sugar-coated cake/pastry, and Vdolky, (Czech donuts).

Across the way, the Prazepne stall owner, clad in his wool hat and jacket, was popping corn. He told us his specially popped corn was vynikající (delicious!). His finished products were bagged in cellophane and nicely displayed to catch the customer’s eye.

A hurdy-gurdy player, sporting a white straw bowler, provided a little background music. A stuffed monkey sat atop his grinder holding up a price list for the CDs being offered.  Next to him stood a man dressed as a knight, just watching the goings on.

Before beginning our actual shopping, a nice warm drink seemed in order. At the Black Angel’s food stand, we purchased a hearty hot chocolate topped with whipped cream for 29 koruna, or $1.49.

The Czechs are prepared to pamper the cold weather customer. Fur appears on outdoor seating and heat lamps are turned on. If it gets really cold, blankets are brought out.

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