Christmas tree for Prague on its way

Christmas market on the Old Town Square

Although in most of the country there is no sign of snow, which is typically associated with Christmas in this part of the world, Christmas preparations have started in earnest. In a square close to the Czech Radio building, a Christmas market appeared on Monday. But probably the best-known Prague market, the one on the historic Old Town Square, is not going to open until next Saturday, December 2. Yet the tall Christmas tree which will dominate the square is already on its way to the capital.

Christmas market on the Old Town Square
This year's tree is a 100-year-old spruce, handpicked by experts in the ski resort of Janske Lazne in Krkonose (the Giant Mountains) close to the Polish border - the same location where last year's tree came from. It is twenty-nine metres tall but its trunk will be shortened by seven metres. It is now being transported to the capital to be raised in the square in a week's time. Jan Rousek of the local forest authority in the Giant Mountains.

"The situation for transport is ideal. There is no snow, unlike last year, so we don't expect any complications. Also, the weather forecast is favourable. The felling itself took place on Tuesday morning and the tree was ready for transport at around 1 pm."

Three years ago, a sudden gust of wind swept the Old Town Square and broke the Christmas tree in half, leaving a British tourist seriously injured. Following the accident, the Prague Town Hall hired a different company to organise the Christmas markets in the city centre. Petr Hozak, a production manager of the markets, says that a number of precautions have been taken to prevent such accidents from happening ever again.

"We have an expert study carried out about each tree every year, which examines the health of the tree and the quality of the wood. The report can be up to 30 pages long. The other important thing is the anchoring itself in the Old Town Square. The tree is sunk two metres into the ground. At the level of 6 metres and 13 metres, there are two steel sleeves to which steel ropes are attached that are anchored to blocks weighing several tonnes. That is to prevent the tree from breaking or falling in case of a gale."

The colourful Christmas markets in the Old Town Square and in Wenceslas Square will begin next Saturday and last until the 1st of January.