PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - Christmas tradition won out over the coronavirus in Prague on Saturday with a COVID-19-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 give children in the Czech Republic presents in exchange for a song or a poem.
But with coronavirus measures around the world 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 theaters 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 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 sizable portion of his wealthy parents' property to the poor after their death.