Christmas time or the so called Advent refers to the period which commences on the 4th Sunday before the Christmas Eve. It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. This period which tradition harking back to the 5th century includes religious practices such as keeping Advent calendar, lighting an Advent wreath, praying an Advent daily devotionals, lighting Christingles and setting up Christmas decorations. While in the past it was the period of fasting, todays many cities turn their squares into Christmas markets with stalls full of traditional festive meals, beverages, and where craftsmen display and sell their craft products. It is time when people meet with their family and friends under the Christmas Tree and together soak up the Christmas atmosphere.
Brno is not an exception and has prepared for its citizens and tourists Brno Christmas, spreading on the four squares this year for the first time. Let’s take a brief tour of Brno Christmas.
Our first stop on the tour is in Dominican square, located in front of the New Town Hall. It has joined the Brno Christmas for the first time this year and already it is a must stop for food lovers. The square has become the venue for Gourmet Christmas where Brno`s well known and popular establishments offer their Christmas specialities in ten stalls. I am fond of good meal so I took an opportunity immediately and have tasted venison stew prepared by Borgo Agnese restaurant and it was delicious. From December 19, the square becomes the spot where you can buy a live carp. Fried carp with potatoes salad is served as a traditional meal for Christmas dinner but some families buy a live carp to release him on the Christmas Day, another local Christmas tradition.
After satisfying our taste buds we head towards Zelní trh market place. Throughout the year one can buy here fresh vegetable and fruits from local producers since medieval but during Advent the market is transformed into a lovely Christmas village.
The spirit of storybook village is created by craft booths. People walking among stalls can buy here gingerbread, candles, ceramics, Christmas decorations and gifts all handmade products. The atmosphere is emphasized by a rich musical program on the small stage found in the upper left corner next to the Christmas Tree. Following our shopping of the Christmas gifts in the Christmas village we may feel thirst so let’s go to Náměstí Svobody square (Freedom Square), the largest square in Brno where it all has started on November 25.
When walking through Radnická street we are provided with another opportunity to buy an original gift for our family and friends. The novelty of this year market are two designer glass modules flanking both sides of the entrance portal of the Old Town Hall. These modules are the venue for December Design Days where local designers offer their original products for sell.
Reaching Náměstí Svobody square our attention is drawn by the beautiful Christmas Tree. In the Czech Republic, the first erected Christmas Tree on public place was the one on todays´ Brno Náměstí Svobody square. In happened on the instigation of the Czech writer, poet, journalist and translator Rudolf Těsnohlídek in 1924. Shortly before Christmas in 1919, Mr Těnoshlídek and his friends rescued abandoned 17 months old girl named Libuška in the woods outside of Bílovice nad Svitavou town. The child was adopted and lived until 1997. This incident brought to Mr Těsnohlídek and idea to put up a public Christmas Tree on the main square in Brno with a moneybox beneath to gather money for building of an orphanage. From this year, the tradition has been kept until nowadays and has spread over the Europe continent.
The main opening ceremony of Brno Christmas took place right in the Náměstí Svobody square every year. Apart from traditional wooden stalls offering delicious meals and craft products, the new of this year market is the Winter Bar comprising of two indoor and three outdoor bars. Having stop there you can choose from wide variety of alcohol and soft beverages. Among the most traditional winter drinks are mead, mull wine, punch and well-known regional drink called Turbomošt, all worth tasting. Brno follows new trend coming from big European cities and has launched returnable containers to serve drinks to minimize waste. The design of cups, depicting Brno´s 4 squares, is specially created for Brno Christmas by Brno designer Peter Kvíčaly. You can keep it for a symbolic sum or return it when you finish your drink and the sum will be refunded to you. For kids the city has prepared ZOO corner and the wooden carved nativity scene. Tourists who want to buy or make own souvenirs to remember their visit of Brno and Christmas market can do this in another glass city modules installed in the square.
Moravian square the fourth and the last square of on our tour of Brno Christmas. Big tops offer shelter for everyone who is seeking for good meal, beverages or gifts for Christmas. They provide a space for concerts and different workshops and theatre performances too.
But Advent is not about preparations for Christmas only, it is mainly time when we should think of people who are dependent on our help. The city of Brno has prepared several charity collections. Every Tuesday is dedicated to humanitarian aid and on Dec 16 the market of the humanitatian non-profit organizations starting on Radnická Street. In the squares, are already installed stalls whose profit from selling goods goes to people who need our help.
Ending our tour of Brno Christmas my farewell words to you in this year 2016 is a quotation from a famous Christmas movie.
“Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017 my dear friends 🙂