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Public participate in renditions of Czech Christmas Mass in Prague

The Czech Christmas Mass was performed for the 17th year in succession at Prague’s busy Main Train Station on Saturday afternoon. Musicians and choir members were joined by scores of members of the public in a rendition of the pastoral mass by composer Jan Jakub Ryba.

Dozens of choristers were conducted by the organiser of the pre-Christmas event, Lukáš Prchal. The composition, known colloquially as “Rybovka”, was also performed with public participation on Kampa, beneath Prague’s Charles Bridge.

Number of Ukrainian jobseekers putting Czech authorities under strain

The number of Ukrainian citizens applying for permits to work in the Czech Republic is continuing to rise, novinky.cz reported on Saturday. While two years ago the figure was around 170 a month, it has now reached 1,000 a month, the news site said.

With a very high number of jobs unfilled in the Czech Republic, employers have expressed great interest in hiring Ukrainians through a government scheme named Ukraine Regime. The initial intention was to bring in 3,800 a year. However, the total number of applicants over this year and 2016 has been more than 10,000.

The increased interest has put a strain on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of the Interior, which oversee the scheme, novinky.cz said. Whereas applications were dealt with within a week in August 2016 that process now takes 114 days.

Czech state could end up paying subsidies for controversial Stork’s Nest

The European Commission has called on the Czech Republic to exclude expenditures from the controversial Stork’s Nest project from an EU programme for the Central Bohemia region. The Czech Ministry of Finance says it will decide on the matter within two months. However, the commission said on Friday that the Czech Republic would not be seeking the sum in question from the EU. This would mean that the Czech state would end up paying the CZK 50 million.

Eleven people were charged with the abuse of EU funds in connection with the Stork’s Nest farm and hotel complex. They include now-prime minister Andrej Babiš and his senior ANO colleague Jaroslav Faltýnek.

The pair have parliamentary immunity after being elected in October and the Czech lower house is to decide on whether to allow them to face trial in connection with the matter. They deny any wrongdoing.

Ferry service starts at spot where Prague bridge collapsed

A new ferry went into operation on Saturday at the spot in Prague where a footbridge collapsed earlier this month. The small ferry, which is free of charge, runs from the island Císařský ostrov to Troja, the location of Prague’s zoo.

Four people were injured, two seriously, when the footbridge collapsed three weeks ago. The causes of the collapse are still being investigated.

The Prague authorities are planning to replace the structure with a new bridge.

Imported Polish firs taking increased share of Czech Christmas tree market

Imported fir trees from Poland are taking an increasing share of the Christmas tree market in the Czech Republic, forcing prices down, iDnes.cz reported.

A representative of the Association of Christmas Tree Cultivators told the news website that large growers from Denmark had established new plantations in Poland some years back and the trees were now ready for sale.

Firs have long been the most popular Christmas trees in the Czech Republic, winning out over spruce and pine trees. However, if Czechs are keen to buy local the latter should be easier to find, iDnes.said.

Thousands of ducklings die in fire

Thousands of ducklings were burned to death in a fire at an agricultural facility in Hlušice, East Bohemia on Friday night. Around 3,500 birds died in the blaze, which occurred in a hall measuring about 50 by 20 metres.

The causes of the fire are being investigated, a spokesperson for the local fire service told the Czech News Agency.

Weather forecast

Christmas Eve should be overcast in the Czech Republic, with temperatures of up to 8 degrees Celsius expected. Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day are expected to be brighter, with temperatures falling to around 4 degrees Celsius on the latter.