St Wenceslas celebrated with two open-air markets

Wenceslas Square and náměstí Republiky will have events until Sept 28

Wenceslas Square and náměstí Republiky will host celebrations for St Wenceslas. Markets will be on both squares from Sept. 14 to 28. The final day is the national holiday for St Wenceslas.

At Wenceslas Sqaure, there will be a cultural program from 1 pm to 6 pm of traditional folk music and old Prague songs on Sept. 16 to 24.

The celebration will culminate on Sept. 28, starting at noon with historical music. At 2 pm and 4 pm, there will be a procession with actors portraying Wenceslas and his retinue. Between the two processions, at 3 pm there will be a knights' tournament.

The market at Wenceslas Square will have two entry gates decorated with arched garlands. Blacksmiths will show their art in the center of the market. There will be entrance guards and decorations so visitors can make interesting selfies.

Crafts, gifts and food will be available. Some of the food will be traditional, like klobasa or grilled chicken, along with popular favorites like pasta and Serbian pljeskavica. Pastries, soft drinks and beer will be for sale as well. Mead, a traditional honey beverage, fits in with the medieval theme. Burčák, or young wine, and roasted nuts are among seasonal offerings.

Náměstí Republiky will have a market for the first time for the St Wenceslas celebration, but the program is not as extensive.

St Wenceslas is regarded as the patron saint of Bohemia and Moravia. He is better known to English speakers as Good King Wenceslas, though he was really a duke or prince.

Some details of his life are disputed. His date of birth was sometime around 907 AD, and he died either in 929 AD or 935 AD. Sources give different dates.

He was part of the Přemyslid dynasty, and is regarded as a martyr because he was murdered by his brother Boleslav's henchmen near Prague in the town now called Stará Boleslav.

Wenceslas founded a rotunda consecrated to St. Vitus at Prague Castle, on the locations of the current St. Vitus Cathedral. A chapel in the current cathedral contains his relics including his skull.

He also returned Bohemia to Christianity after his mother, Drahomíra, serving as regent when Wenceslas was a minor, attempted to restore the old pagan ways.

Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) was named for him since 1848. Before that, it was known as the Horse Market (Koňský trh). The square was established in 1348 by Emperor Charles IV as one of three big market places in New Town.

The current equestrian statue of St Wenceslas was sculpted by Josef Václav Myslbek in 1887 to 1924. Wenceslas, on a horse, is accompanied by four other Czech saints, depicted standing. The plinth by architect Alois Dryák includes the inscription. “Svatý Václave, vévodo české země, kníže náš, nedej zahynouti nám ni budoucím” (Saint Wenceslas, duke of the Czech land, prince of ours, do not let perish us nor our descendants).

A legend says the spirit of St Wenceslas will return with an army of knights when the Bohemian lands are their darkest hours of need.

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