St. Nicholas celebrations in Prague: Where to meet saints, devils, and angels in 2023

Plus: Learn how Mikuláš is connected to Santa Claus and why this centuries-old tradition lives on in Czechia today. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 04.12.2023 15:43:00 (updated on 04.12.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

As part of a centuries-old tradition, this Tuesday will see trios of Sv. Mikuláš (St. Nicholas), Čert (the devil), and Anděl (angel) visit children throughout Czechia as part of St. Nicholas Day celebrations. 

According to lore, Mikuláš carries a book with him that is consulted to determine whether a child’s behavior is deserving of sweet treats or a lump of coal and a ride off to hell in the devil’s sack.

As per tradition, children will often sing or recite poetry to Mikuláš and his angel before collecting their eagerly anticipated presents.

How is Sv. Mikuláš connected to Santa Claus?

The holiday is based on a real Greek bishop named St. Nicholas of Myra, who lived in the third century and was known for his generous gift-giving to children.

St. Nicholas, born in 280 in Patara (now Turkey), was an altruistic Christian orphan who dedicated his life to charity and faith and was known for giving generously to children. While never officially canonized, St. Nicholas became highly revered.

The tradition of celebrating him on Dec. 6 originated in the 13th century. Over time, European immigrants introduced "Sinterklaas" to the U.S., evolving into the iconic Santa Claus figure.

In the European advent calendar, St. Nicholas Day is commonly celebrated on Dec. 6. In Czechia, as in numerous other European countries, St. Nicholas Day festivities commence on the evening preceding the actual day. This tradition stems from the medieval European calendar, where a new day was recognized with the emergence of the first star in the night sky, rather than at sunrise.

Too scary for kids?

In recent years, psychologists debated the custom, with many of them saying that it’s best to skip the tradition of inviting the devil into your home or doing anything that could frighten your child; others believe that confronting fear (and feeling courageous) is a healthy part of childhood development.

Recent years have also seen the emergence of the Krampus tradition – a scary Alpine folkloric figure – terrifying ill-behaved children in the Czech Republic.

Whether you partake in the festivities or not, St. Nicholas Day celebrations maintain their authentic essence and message of rewarding good behavior. In contrast, the traditional Santa Claus Christmas celebrations on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 have, in recent decades, become overshadowed by consumerism and commercialization.

Here is our extensive guide on how to get in on all the fun during 2023’s Mikuláš celebrations in Prague:

On Dec. 5, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., the upper part of Wenceslas Square will see Mikuláš, angels, devils, and Krampus entertaining children, who will also get gifts if they ask nicely! Combine this event with the opening of the brand new Wenceslas Square ice rink on Tuesday.

The traditional Old Town Square Mikuláš event – complete with a host of devils (including Krampus) and angels – will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 5. This procession also features an appearance from well-known children’s entertainer Bára Ladrová, as well as performances of various fairy tales and exciting competitions (and surprises!)

Tuesday will see Mikuláš and the devil appear on Mariánské náměstí at 5 p.m. A range of music performances, such as one offered by Prague Children's Opera, will take place afterward.

The annual child-oriented Mikuláš celebration will take place on náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad this Tuesday between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. The event includes a special raffle and Christmas workshops for children. 

The Procity Theater in Prague 3 will put on a special children’s fairy tale performance entitled How the Miserly Devil Gifted. Colorful costumes and cheerful songs will accompany this show, which will take place on Dec. 5 at 4 p.m. and costs CZK 250 per ticket.

Join a special Mikuláš-themed walk through the Old Town on Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m. to learn more about the story and history behind this Christmas figure. You’ll learn about monuments and figures associated with Mikuláš, and you’ll get to see the icon himself at the end of the walk at Old Town Hall, where the devil and angel will join him. Tickets cost CZK 200.

See Mikuláš with the devil and angel at Písecká Gate in Prague’s Hradčany district – this will run from 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Mikuláš and his angels will spread joy at this whole-day Christmas event on Dec. 5 (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) at Prague 4’s náměstí Brumlovka. Warm food and drinks, as well as creative workshops for children, are on offer!

Experience the start of Christmas with Mikuláš, devils, and angels gathering at náměstí Na Kampě at Malá Strana for a musical celebration, with a tree-lighting ceremony at 5 p.m on Dec. 5. The event, which also features a nativity scene, will include performances from the Lovestrong Orchestra and Kutheil Band in the evening, finishing at 9 p.m.

Head over to Prague Zoo on Dec. 5, where from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mikuláš, the devil, and angel will roam around the grounds and give out small gifts to (well-behaved!) children. 

Embark on a special cruise along the Vltava River on Dec. 5 as devils from the riverbanks – and even inside the boat – spew spooky tales at children and their parents. Meet Mikuláš and his angel during the trip, ready to reward the well-behaved children during this memorable journey. Cruises set off from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Malá Strana’s Fürstenberg Garden (on the grounds of Prague Castle) will welcome Mikuláš and his entourage this Tuesday, starting at 5 p.m. Entertainment and gifts for kids will be provided.

The Prague 1 St. Agnes Monastery hosts a music-themed Mikuláš event on Dec. 5th (from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.), complete with choirs presenting the religious story behind the Christmas figure. Families can enjoy thematic workshops before the concert where children can join in singing and playing instruments, followed by a visit from Mikuláš, an angel, and the devil.

The Škoda Icerink winter stadium in Prague 10 will hold a special “Mikuláš on the ice” event on Dec. 5 at 3 p.m. and 4:45 p.m., where members of the public can also skate before Mikuláš comes onto the ice! Admission is free and gifts await children; register here.

Come to the Myslbek Shopping Gallery on Prague 1’s Na Příkopě this Tuesday, where between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Mikuláš, Čert, and Anděl will walk around the building. Take note: a free gift awaits if you sing a song or recite a poem when you see them!

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