Prague (CTK) – More than 30 churches in Prague will display nativity scenes during Christmas and a midnight mass will be celebrated in some 50 Roman Catholic churches in the Czech capital on Christmas Eve.
Other churches plan a Christmas mass earlier on Sunday that will be accompanied with singing carols. Several churches offer a Christmas divine service in foreign languages.
Some of the nativity scenes displayed in Prague churches are quite unique.
St Matthew Church in the Dejvice neighbourhood will present a nativity scene made of gingerbread, while the Church of Virgin Mary, the Queen of Angels in Hradcany, near Prague Castle, is proud of its life-sized nativity scene.
The nativity scene displayed in St James the Greater Church in Petrovice consists of photographs of about 600 parishioners, both the living and deceased ones.
The Prague Archbishopric has published a brochure with the history of particular nativity scenes this year that is available in particular churches and tourist information centres, including also the opening hours of the churches and the schedule of Christmas divine services.
The Nativity Scenes 2017 programme is part of the Christian Christmas project held all over the Czech Republic. It is connected with the Bethlehem Light event organised by scouts who annually travel to Vienna by train in mid-December to bring the Bethlehem light to the Czech Republic.
The tradition emerged in Austria, where the light was transported from Bethlehem in 1986, and it has spread into 25 countries since then. In the Czech Republic, the Bethlehem light appeared for the first time in December 1989, following the collapse of the communist regime.
Praguers and tourists can also attend midnight masses in many churches on Christmas Eve.
Cardinal Dominik Duka, primate of the Czech Catholic Church will serve a midnight mass in St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle, starting at 23:59.
As personal security checks of all visitors to the Castle were introduced at all entries in the summer of 2016, people going to the midnight mass must undergo them as well. However, unlike last Christmas, the Castle will remain open in the night the whole time until the mass ends.
People can hear the traditional Czech Christmas Mass by Jakub Jan Ryba (1765-1815), performed by musicians and singers within a midnight mass, in seven Prague churches, such as St Peter Church in the New Town, the Basilica of St James the Greater in the Old Town and St Wenceslas Church in the Vrsovice neighbourhood.
Some of the churches will celebrate evening masses earlier, at 22:00 already, for instance, the Church of the Virgin Mary under the Chain in the Lesser Town, near Charles Bridge.