Yesterday saw the official arrival of Christmas in Cesky Krumlov. The square was full of parents with the children listening to three devils playing jolly music whilst waiting for the arrival of St Nicholas. Two angel comperes stepped forward and announced the arrival of the great man and there he was. A tremor of excitement went through the younger members of the audience as he approached the stage.
Small children stepped up to sing to the saint and answer questions about whether they had been good this year. It was all very wholesome and organized. Meanwhile on the opposite side of the square more riotous and traditional scenes were being played out. Here the devils far outnumbered the angels and there was not a St Nick to be seen. It was mostly the devils who were interrogating the children and those children who had not been good ended up in the devil's sack.
A female devil was inviting children to draw and display their diabolic portraits and other devils were offering the opportunity to throw horseshoes into a bin in return for a reward.
The square was still heaving when I left. The adults were buying warm Gluhwein and sausages from the Christmas market stalls. And the children were thronging a stall selling illuminated devil's horns and fairy wands (or were they light sabres?). I made my way to the car passing yet more devils coming in the opposite direction rattling their chains and growling. Someone is going have to do something about Krumlov's devil/angel/St Nicholas ratio.