Venezuelan Christmas market brings South American cheer to Prague

For the fifth year in a row, the Czech capital's Venezuelan market will fill Prague with Caribbean and South American flavors next weekend.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 03.12.2023 15:59:00 (updated on 18.12.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague's St. Thomas Church in Malá Strana will come alive with the vibrant spirit of a Venezuelan Christmas next Sunday, December 10th. This marks the fifth year of the Venezuelan Christmas Market, a celebration that introduces Prague to the rich traditions of Caribbean and South American festivities.

The market is organized by La Casa Venezolana, a non-profit organization, in collaboration with the Parish of St. Thomas. The event is open to the public, with free admission, providing a chance to savor Venezuelan cuisine and enjoy live performances of Creole Christmas carols by Venezuelan music group La Circunstancia.

Venezuelan Christmas is a fusion of diverse traditions, featuring an array of unique dishes and celebrations. One of the highlights is the hallaca (pictured at top), a tamale-like dish exclusive to the Christmas season and deeply rooted in Venezuelan identity. Prepared with a complex process and a blend of diverse ingredients, the hallaca is a symbol of the country's cultural melting pot.

"For this Christmas, we have teamed up with the Parish of Saint Thomas in Malá Strana to organize a traditional Venezuelan Christmas Market, where Venezuelan migrants will prepare and sell typical food, drinks, handcrafts, etc.," Valerio Mendoza Guillén, co-founder of La Casa Venezolana, tells us.

"There will also be a performance of Creole Christmas carols from Venezuela, among other activities."

In addition to the culinary delights, the market will feature a pastorela, a theatrical performance by children, and a representation of the birth of Christ at Bethlehem or pesebre, offering a Latin American perspective on the traditional Nativity scene.

The Venezuelan Christmas Market offers a unique opportunity for the Prague community to experience diverse ways of celebrating the holiday season while supporting the Venezuelan community.

The Venezuelan community has a rich historical connection with the Czech Republic. Notable figures from Venezuela, including Francisco de Miranda in the 18th century and Teresa Carreño in the 19th century, visited Prague in the past. In recent years, the Venezuelan community in the Czech Republic has grown substantially due to the Venezuelan migratory crisis, and now contains around 500 individuals. Many are descendants of Czechoslovaks who emigrated to Venezuela during World War II, returning to their ancestral land through a special repatriation program.

Despite the challenges faced by the Venezuelan community in Prague, including the closure of the embassy in 2018, organizations like La Casa Venezolana strive to preserve and redefine Venezuelan identity, fostering cultural exchange and understanding. The Venezuelan Christmas Market stands as a testament to the resilience and diversity of the Venezuelan community in Prague.

Guillén emphasized the cultural significance of the annual Venezuelan Christmas market. "We believe this is a very nice opportunity for the expat community of Prague to get in touch with different ways of celebrating Christmas and give support to the Venezuelan migrant community."

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