Prague’s Old Town Square will start to celebrate the Christmas season this Saturday, when a 23-meter Norway spruce aged at over 50 years will be erected in the historic locale.
The tree was cut down in Česká Lípa on Sunday and is now making its way to the Czech capital.
This year, however, there won’t be an official ceremony marking the event.
Officials have cited security concerns following the recent attacks in Paris as the reason for cancelling the annual tree lighting, according to iDnes: not necessarily due to any perceived threat in Prague, but because of potential panic at the crowded central location.
“We are not afraid of a terrorist attack, but rather a panic in the event that someone would abuse the situation,” said markets spokesperson Hana Tietze.
Instead of an official ceremony, the tree will be quietly erected on Saturday, and lit up each hour to the rhythm of music. Old Town Square’s traditional Christmas market will begin as usual from November 28.
The official announcement cancelling the tree lighting was made on Monday, but rumors have been making the rounds.
“FEAR OF ATTACK: Islamic State destroys traditional Czech Christmas!” read a headline on Nova last week.
While that statement may not be entirely accurate, Christmas markets in Old Town and throughout Prague are expected to see increased police presence.
In past years, the most dangerous element of Old Town Square’s Christmas market may have been the Christmas tree itself: in 2003, a British tourist was seriously injured when hit by the falling tree.