Prague is missing all of the political correctness that the US and UK have created by turning Christmas into Winterval (or Luminos, if you are the city of Luton or a big Harry Potter nerd), lighting holiday bushes, and hastily covering up your "Merry Christmas!" cries with "Happy Holidays!" In a city that is notoriously atheist, no one seems bothered by the abundance of Christmas trees, Christmas markets, Christmas treats, Christmas presents, etc. Christmas music is pumped out of every speaker in the city (though possibly the loudest in our kitchen), and you just can't help feeling pretty freakin' jolly.
There is a video kicking around that has been all over ever expat I know's Twitter and Facebook, and for good reason - it's beautiful. Czech it out:
Night in Prague from Metron on Vimeo.
Am very excited for Mom to get here tomorrow so we can go exploring, drinking hot wine and doing all types of fabulous Christmas-y things.
Have been getting myself in the spirit by baking up a storm, blasting Xmas music, and watching Love Actually (swoon). Had some free time last week due to a cancelled class, so did a bit of strolling around and finally got a chance to check out the Almost Velvet Revolutions display at Namesti Republicky (just as well, because I almost missed it!). This outdoor photo display was put together by Insaan, the Czech-Arab Centre for Cultural Dialogue, and compares the 1989 Velvet Revolution (see: HeRe) to the Arab revolutions and protests of the past year.
Was very interesting, and incredibly moving. Hard to believe that these events are so recent. You can see a peek of one of the Christmas markets behind it, but as I'm sure you've already realized by now, I am an absolute crap photographer, so you're much better off just googling the things I tell you about!
Had a little birthday celebration at the apartment, which was fabulous - there are such great people here, and I'm a lucky, lucky lady to have such wonderful friends all over the place. Paid for this celebration on Saturday (sadly, one does not bounce back from turning 27 quite like turning 21. Dammit.), then spent Sunday baking up a storm for the #fbcookieswap, which you will read alllllll about when I turn in my obligatory blog post about it on Monday. Rather than navigate the terrifying post office (I can barely send a letter, I'm hardly about to walk in there and attempt to ship a dozen cookies), we got together and swapped in person, and it was an absolutely lovely afternoon. I got to meet some fantastic women and develop diabetes in the meantime. (It's the holidays... New Year's Resolutions were designed specifically for these types of things)
Tomorrow (well, today now technically) is the feast of St. Mikuláš, which just may be my favorite Czech holiday I think. St. Mikuláš is similar to St. Nicholas. On December 5th, St. Mikuláš roams the streets of Prague, with an angel and devil in tow, to check up on children and see how they've behaved this year. If they've been good, they receive a small treat from the angel. If not, they get coal (or curiously, a potato?) from the devil. When I asked one student about the potato, he said he's not sure why this is but thinks it's probably because potatoes are useless and dirty... Fair enough. Children may also leave their windows open and put their shoes on the sill to get presents from Mikuláš. So on December 5th, you are bound to see tons of Mikuláš, angels and devils walking around entertaining the kids (and me, quite frankly).
Please note - I find this picture terrifying.
Which I suppose is somewhat the point for the devils.
It is reeeeeally time that I got to bed, so I can trek to the airport tomorrow to pick up Mom. Am very excited! But also, since everyone seems to be on a big Prague video kick, I thought I'd add another one, which I love, largely because I can pinpoint all the different locations and squeel things like "Ohhhhh, I know where that is!" and "Ohhhh, that's the little old lady outside the post office!" and it makes me feel a bit like "Ha! I live here! I know things! This is my home!" Which is pretty freakin' cool. Enjoy!
Prague. from Marco Santi on Vimeo.