PRAGUE (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic has made life difficult for a lot of people in the Czech Republic, and that includes Saint Nicholas.

Every year on Dec. 5, Nicholas appears in costume on streets across the European country, joined by a winged angel and a masked devil rattling a metal chain.

The trio goes door-to-door visiting children and giving them candy and small gifts, if they have been well-behaved. If not, the devil threatens to put the girls and boys in his sack and take them directly to hell – unless the angel intervenes.

The Czech health minister insisted the traditional trio needed to follow the government’s infection-control measures just like everyone else, which meant wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

A new circus company in Prague offered another option on Saturday. The troupe set up an imaginary heaven and hell and invited families to come in cars to watch devils jumping, angels flying and Saint Nicholas waving.

A long line of cars at the La Putyka Circus base in Prague formed an eager audience for the drive-thru performance. The kids still hoped to find a stocking filled with chocolates, oranges and nuts on a window, but with the angel, devil and Nicholas in town, they know it won’t be long until Christmas.

Saint Nicholas was a Greek Christian bishop who lived at the turn of the 3rd and 4th centuries. Known for his goodness and generosity, he is said to have inspired the creation of Santa Claus.

Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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