Along with Easter and Pentecost, Christmas is the most important feast of the Christian liturgical year. The tradition of present-day Christmas celebrations dates back to the mid-19th century, although some customs go back to the Middle Ages and many are reminders of pre-Christian times. Over time, Christmas has developed into the most beautiful and most favoured family feast.
The City of Prague Museum presents Christmas traditions and celebrations in Prague during the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries through museum artefacts. Historical paintings and photographs as well as memories of multiple contemporaries, including the specific morning Mass in honour of the Virgin Mary – Rorate coeli, depict the atmosphere of the city and its families during the pre- and post-Christmas time, Saint Nicholas Feast, Three Kings’ Day, New Year’s Eve and various winter pastimes. The traditional Prague Christmas markets are introduced; not only did people enjoy the Christmas atmosphere but also could buy nativity scenes, sweets, devil and Saint Nicholas figures, gifts, and other goods.
An interior of a Christmas decorated parlour of a late 19th century family of Prague burghers dominates the exhibition, showing Christmas celebrations in the family circle including the custom of tree decorating and presents. The richness of the burgher milieu is further enhanced in the Christmas Eve playroom where children can play with the toys which Prague children received for Christmas during the last century. A deliciously smelling burgher kitchen will add to the learning about Christmas; it will present a Christmas menu as well as the art of baking in public programmes – baking of Christmas, New Year’s, and Shrovetide cookies and pastry.