Having a Latvian Christmas

Even though there is no real proof legends say that Riga the capital of Latvia was the place where the first decorated Christmas tree was displayed in front of the House of Blackheads in Town Hall Square back in 1510. Every year at Christmas you can see a decorated Christmas tree on this exact spot. Usually, it is decorated with ornaments made of natural material such s straw. The very first tree was decorated with paper flowers and later burnt at a bonfire ceremony.

Latvian children believe that Ziemassvetku vecitis which is Santa Claus in Latvian is assisted by little dwarfs known as Ziemassvetku rukisi or Christmas dwarfs. Christmas presents are secretly placed under the Christmas tree when no one is around. In Latvian tradition, presents are opened on Christmas Eve and to get a present a person had to recite a short poem while standing next to the Christmas tree then they could receive their present. If someone wished to do so they could also play a musical instrument or do a  dance to get their gift.

The Christmas feast included special meat cooked like roast goose or suckling pig. Accompanied by brown or grey peas with fried bacon and onion, stewed sauerkraut and sausages, small pies, bacon rolls made especially for holidays and in Latvian known as piragi and gingerbread cookies or piparkukas.  

During the month of December, you can buy traditional decorations and handmade crafts like wooden toys at the Riga Christmas Market. There might me several markets set up all over the city. At the market, you can also purchase traditional Christmas food such as smoked meats, stewed sauerkraut, gingerbread, and special Christmas candies among other treats. As you look around and shop you can warm up with delicious mulled hot wine or karstvins. The markets are open all month long and the first part of January with the largest market being in Dome Square in the Old Town of Riga,

Both photos are my own one if of the Christmas market and the top on of the Christmas tree at Town Hall Square 


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