One of the most interesting Czech holidays to observe is Mikuláš Day in Prague! It is a Christmas holiday about St. Nicholas (Mikuláš) which is celebrated throughout Europe. Each country has its own unique traditions and customs for this Christian holiday. In the Czech Republic, it is observed on the 5th of December and centers around three figures: St. Nicholas, an angel (the representation of good) and a devil (the representation of evil). In Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, the trio move about Old Town Square, Christmas markets and around the city.
St. Nicholas, or Mikuláš (me-koo-lash) dresses as a bishop in red and white which is based off of the 3rd century bishop St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was believed to be highly invested in the moral development of youth. According to myth, parents would notify St. Nicholas of their children’s good and bad behavior. In turn, St. Nicholas would talk to the children about their deeds.
The angel (anděl) accompanies Mikuláš and rewards the good children with sweets and small gifts with a smile. In this tradition, children also leave their boots out overnight on the 5th so they can be filled with treats by St. Nicholas. If Mikuláš suspects the children have been bad, then they may receive lumps of coal from the devil (čert) who rattles chains, sticks his tongue out and says “bububu” to scare them. The angel dresses in white with feathered wings and the devil wears black or red with horns.
Mikuláš and the angel visit schools often without their other companion, the devil as he is too scary. This is a great holiday to incentivize good behavior in children! In addition, teens and adults dress up on the night of December 5th in the spirit of celebration. I noticed that most people out that night preferred to be devils rather than angels.
There are many events to observe Mikuláš Day in the Czech Republic. I opted to see the fire show in Prague which featured all three figures and some amazing performances. The fire show is held on Mikuláš day at Palackého Namsětí and included stilt walking, juggling, poi, fans, hoops and more.
If you are thinking of celebrating Christmas in the Czech Republic, consider visiting on the 5th of December to observe the unique holiday of Mikuláš Day in Prague! Above all, don’t forget your angel wings or devil horns.