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St Nicholas tradition triumphs over Covid in Prague
A member of the new circus company Cirk La Putyka dressed as an angel entertains people during their drive-thru performance on December 5, 2020 in Prague as families with their children drive their car a route visiting heaven, hell, and St. Nicholas, a big traditional event in the Czech Republic before the Christmas holidays. Michal Cizek / AFP.

PRAGUE (AFP).- Christmas tradition won out over coronavirus in Prague on Saturday with a Covid-compliant, socially-distanced St Nicholas giving out presents to excited children.

Under normal circumstances, St Nicholas, a bearded man accompanied by the devil and an angel, would call on children in the Czech Republic to give them presents in exchange for a song or a poem.

But with coronavirus measures the world over throwing up obstacles to festive celebrations, Prague-based circus company Cirk La Putyka opted for a drive-through solution.

"Over the past nine months we have been looking for different ways to approach the audience," company director Rosta Novak told AFP.

"This is just another way to do that at a time when theatres can't play and bands cannot perform," he added.

In line with tradition, cars first drove through "hell" with devils performing acrobatic tricks and fire shows.

Then they proceeded to "heaven" with angels and finally to St Nicholas himself.

The children received presents at the final stop, many of them sticking their heads out of windows to relish the experience.

Driving a van full of children, Ondrej Prachar said they had all been thrilled.

"It was absolutely perfect," he said, adding that it had also been a tad less frightening than the traditional version when children are sometimes scared by the idea of the devil carrying a bag in which he puts naughty kids.

The St Nicholas tradition dates back to the Middle Ages and St Nicholas Day is celebrated in many countries.

Born in Turkey around 280, St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, tradesmen, pilgrims and children, handed out a sizeable portion of his wealthy parents' property to the poor after their death.

© Agence France-Presse

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