Prague Choral Meetings
Prague Choral Meetings 2018
Spring Choral Meeting
Summer Choral Meeting
Autumn Choral Meeting
Advent Choral Meeting
Prague Choral Meetings 2017
Prague Choral Meetings 2016
Prague Advent Choral Meeting 2015
Prague Advent Choral Meeting 2014
November 20-23, 2014
Prague Summer Choral Meeting 2014
July 17-20 , 2014
Prague Advent Choral Meeting 2013
November 21-24, 2013
November 22-25, 2012
December 1 - 4, 2011
December 2 - 5, 2010
December 3 - 6, 2009
Advent in Prague
The Christmas spirit can be felt from the onset of advent, which starts the first advent Sunday before Christmas Eve. Advent (adventus in Latin) means the "arrival". This is a time of strict fasting, where no joy, dance or singing is permitted. As can be seen from the name, its origins are purely religious.
During advent, towns put up Christmas trees and shop windows are decorated in traditional themes. The largest Christmas trees in the country can be found in Prague in the Old Town Square and at the Prague Castle, where Christmas carols and songs are sung. Boxes for charity purposes are usually placed under these trees. The historic districts of towns throughout the country host Christmas markets where traditional Christmas items can be found - Christmas decorations: straw, wooden, glass, gingerbread, etc. as well as candles, sparklers, nativity scenes, advent wreaths, ceramics, Christmas cards, toys, sweets, mistletoe, chocolate decorations, traditional Christmas dough decorations, etc. There are also demonstrations of traditional folk crafts - blacksmiths, glassmakers, woodcarvers and makers of holiday decorations.
It is believed, in many European nations, that during long winter nights the powers of the earth, wind and sky fight a fierce battle with demonic creatures. During this time of year the Sun, it seems, has lost the battle. Throughout the entire month of December, folk Christmas traditions are abound with mysterious creatures and characters, all shrouded in hidden symbolism. People often dress up like these characters strolling from house to house and through the dimly lit streets during the evening hours. These characters include:
Barborky (St. Barbara’s Day)
The evening before St. Nicholas Day, December 5, St. Nicholas strolls around the city, accompanied by an Angel and a Devil, visiting children and handing out presents. First, he asks the children whether they have been good and if not, they must promise they will be better next year. In Central Europe, there is no association of this St. Nicholas with the Western character of St. Nicolaus, also known as Santa Claus (like in England, USA, Sweden or elsewhere) who brings presents at Christmas. The St. Nicholas tradition is based on the legend of St. Nicholas, a bishop who lived in the 4th century in Asia Minor and was renowned for his religious life and charity. St. Nicholas gives presents in all Slavic countries. This tradition became very popular and the character of St. Nicholas, dressed in a long coat with a crosier in his hand, is now always accompanied by a devil and an angel, representing the antimony of good and evil.
Christmas tree and Christmas Eve
Christmas trees are usually decorated on Christmas Eve, December 24, or earlier in some families. Nativity scenes are arranged, Christmas presents are wrapped and preparations for Christmas dinner are made. The Czech traditional Christmas dinner consists of fish soup, breaded fried carp fillets and potato salad. As the Christmas menu varies from region to region as well as family to family, there are indeed a whole host of recipes used. Tourists can also enjoy the Czech Christmas atmosphere as most of the restaurants and hotels offer traditional Czech Christmas meals.
The tradition of decorating Christmas trees is not very old in the Czech Republic. Legend has it that the first Christmas tree in Prague was erected for Christmas in 1812 at the Liben Chateau by the director of the Theater of the Estates J. K. Liebich for his guests. Soon after, the Czech aristocracy and wealthy townspeople followed his lead and in the 1840, the tradition of Christmas tree decorating was wide-spread. In the past, trees were decorated with sweets, various folk ornaments made from wood, ginger bread or dough, although nowadays they have mostly been replaced by blown glass and colorful tinsel. However, traditional ornaments made from natural materials are slowly making their comeback including straw ornaments, apples, nuts and the orange fruit of the Chinese lantern plant. Originally, the Christmas tree was hung tip-down, not standing upright. Nowadays, the trees are taken down on the day of the Magi or the following Sunday.
Christmas is a family holiday where no one should stay home alone. That’s why the entire family usually meets at the Christmas dinner table and if someone lives alone, they are invited over by friends or neighbors. The festive dinner is followed by the special moment which children look forward to all year long - unwrapping the presents from under the tree that were left by baby Jesus. To get the presents they wished for, many children write letters to baby Jesus before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, baby Jesus enters each home and leaves presents under the tree. He lights the candles and lights on it and then disappears without being seen just before the Christmas bell rings. Christmas carols are usually sung under the lit Christmas tree. The most famous are: Christ the King is Born (originated in the 15th century), Wanting Him to Fall Asleep (17th century), Merry Feast of Yuletide (late 17th century), Come All Ye Shepherds (from 1847) and Silent Night (originally Austrian from 1818), as well as Czech carols: Pujdem spolu do Betléma (Come Together to Bethlehem), Stojí vrba kosatá, Dej Buh stestí (May God Bless You).
There are numerous special Christmas events organized throughout the city. Exhibitions, concerts in churches and concert halls, advent music festivals, fund raisers, special programs for children - something for everybody. Czech Christmas cannot be complete without the Czech teacher and composer Jan Jakub Ryba’s (1765 - 1815) Christmas Mass with folk and pastoral elements Hey, Master. It is performed in churches throughout the advent season.