December 24: Warm Up With a Free Bowl of Christmas Soup in Old Town Square

Old Town Square will again serve free fish soup from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to anyone who wants some.

On Christmas Eve, 24 December, you can enjoy the traditional Christmas fish soup for free in the center of Prague. The hot dish with a small dessert will be served on Old Town Square by mayor Zdeněk Hříb.

The traditional event will last from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Originally the soup was intended for the homeless, but with growing interest from the public, it became something of a social event with scores of people turning up to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere.

A part of the Czech holiday tradition is fasting all day before the Christmas Eve meal in the hopes of seeing a magical golden pig in the sky. The idea is popular among children.

It will also be possible to join the tradition in your own neighbourhood. It is customary for individual municipalities to hold their own Christmas soup distributions for their inhabitants each year. The exact time and place will be communicated to each unit.

Why Fish for Christmas?

People often question how the carp, generally considered to be of Asian origins, not only found its way to Central Europe but also became the standard Christmas meal in the Czech lands. In truth, it’s really quite logical.

Carp are a huge family of fish ranging from Europe to Asia; the common carp, which is the species used in the traditional Czech Christmas meal, is actually native to central Europe. It always was here, nobody imported it.

The Czech fish farming industry, which dates to the early 14th century, was built around the carp. To this day, the historic fish ponds and farms of the Třeboňsko region of South Bohemia produce the bulk of carp that you’ll see on sale around Christmas on Czech Streets.

It’s not such a stretch of the imagination to see how the fish that helped build and support an industry of both modern and historical significance to the nation could become the centerpiece of at least one major festive meal in the year.

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