No longer a tourist
Monday, December 23, 2013 at 12:00PM
J. Preston in Prague

Image from here.

You know you're a local when you intentionally avoid Old Town Square in December because of the asses-to-elbows demonstration of the holiday spirit that reigns from Mid-November until January. Eleven months a year, the square is breathtaking in a way Walt Disney could only imitate (oh wait, he did!) Throw in a church that looks like a castle, a 600-year old clock, a statute of a Catholic reformer who was burned at the stake, and it’s enough to draw even the staunchest Francophilic American 1000km east of Gaul.*

But wait, there's more. Add in 40+ food stands, hot wine, holiday tzocth up the ying, a massive Christmas tree, a cocktail tent, a petting zoo, and what appears to be the very source of all Trdlnik (Central European donuts) and you have a Christmas Orgy that would make any child's head explode.

Speaking of orgies, I challenge any American mall to a Christmas-Capitalism-Death-Match with Prague’s Palladium. Yours truly procrastinated long enough that I had no choice but to attempt to find my husband a gift there on the Friday before Christmas. Never again. He will get coal, and I'm sure I will be able to conjure up a reason why. Humbug.

Lest my readers be scared off a Prague visit because of the above nonsense** I will move on to the more touching moments of my 2nd Czech Christmas season.

1. Indoor BBQ's. I don't care what you do in North Carolina and I could give a hoot about Texas--California is BBQ country. Mostly veggie kabobs for this girl, but I like the smell of a grill as much as anyone in cowboy boots. Preferebly with a healthy whiff of Pacific Ocean air. Legend has it that my grandfather used to marinate his steaks in lighter fluid. I might point out that he retired in Texas. But I digress. BBQ's are as Californian as surfing on Christmas, and I haven't been to one since I left. Until last Thursday, at the end of the year office party at a tech company where I teach. It was too cold, and lets face it, waaay to inconvenient to cook outside, so they just rigged up a BBQ in the conference room, and there was smoky meat product for all. Said company shall remain nameless.

2. They eat fish here for Xmas instead of legged creatures. Carp, to be precise. Sounds great, except they expect me to buy one out of a tub on the corner, take it home to my bathtub and club it with a skillet.  I'm not kidding. They told me I must do this or I will never be a real Czech woman.

3. There is no Santa Claus in the CZ. What a ridiculous notion, I mean, how juvenile can you Americans get? A Bishop from Turkey who flies around the globe bringing already wealthy kids even more junk they don't need? Here, it's baby Jesus or "Ježíšek" who delivers presents to children. Way to mix religion and Capitalism, Czechs. At least we have the decency to keep Jesus out of the Malls in America. (Oh wait, no we don't.)


*Even ma Mère made it to Prague this summer!

**Speaking here to my only verifiable reader, Uncle Jeff, who I’ve most certainly scared off of Prague, as I’ve just described what I believe to be his worst nightmare.

Article originally appeared on The Wanderlusting Expat (
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