Prague Christmas Markets
What to Expect: The two best Vanocni trh (Christmas markets) are on the long slope of Wenceslas Square and in the medieval movie set of the Old Town Square formed around a giant Christmas tree, manger scene, and small petting zoo. The markets' brightly decorated stalls sell wooden toys, Bohemian crystal, handmade jewelry, classic Czech marionettes, and plenty of potential for tooth decay: honeyed gingerbread, vánocvka (a braided pastry studded with raisins), and vosí hnízda' ("wasps nests," nutty cookies heavy with rum). Wash it all down with mead and svarene vino (a sweet mulled wine). Christmas Eve dinner consists of wine sausages and carp—you'll see barrels of the fish everywhere. Slip a carp scale into your wallet to ensure an adequate cash flow for the upcoming year.
Look For: St. Nicholas and his cohorts. The original St. Nick—the one with a bishop's miter and staff-is hugely popular in Prague, so a highlight of Christmas season is Mikulas, or St. Nicholas Day. This kindly saint takes his own day (Dec. 5) to roam town accompanied by an angel and a demon. The trio wades through the crowds of kids in the Old Town Square, tallying the naughty and nice.
Dates: Early Dec.–early Jan.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.