Christmas in latvia

Christmas in
Prepared by M.Kalēja, A.Zikmane
Christmas is an important family celebration for
Latvians. Many Latvians attend-Midnight Mass
church services,decorate Christmas trees and
exchange gifts on Christmas Eve - December 24.
Christmas Eve is the most important moment!
Celebrations continue on Christmas Day and the
day after.
Christian churches celebrated Christ child's birth
celebration is gradually mixed with the Latvian
ancient winter solstice celebrations, and now it’s
no longer celebrated at the right, astronomical
solstice day - 22 December - but on the 24th
December. For many Latvians this time of the
year is also associated with pre-Christian
traditions and rituals reflected in ancient folk
songs and observed in a variety of colourful
The winter solstice was celebrated when the
night was longest and the day shortest, when
the intensity of field work was lowest, but
people gathered for evening bees to do textile
and other handwork, to spin fairytales and
other stories, to guess riddles, sing and dance.
In the Christian tradition Christmas is the birth
of God's son, but in traditional Latvian culture
it is the rebirth of the Sun maiden.
During Christmas rooms are decorated with three-dimensional
straw or reed ornaments that are known as lukturi, puzuri, and
so on. Traditional decoration - "puzurs" is not only beautiful,
but also energetically very powerful, it perfectly cleans the
space from unwanted energies.
If on thread suspended "puzurs" rotates by itself, it means that
it works.
Puzurs is a collection of many small pyramids, and as it larger,
the stronger is energy.
The best known Christmas tradition is mumming .The
mummers are costumed and in different masks.
The most common traditional masks are bears, horses,
cranes, wolfs, goats, tall women, small men, death,
Led by a "father", the mummers travel from homestead
to homestead or from village to village. The mummers
bring a home blessing, encourage fertility, and frighten
away any evil spirits.
Another Christmas tradition is dragging the
Yule log.
This is explained as the symbolic collecting
and burning of last year's problems and
The Yule log was either dragged by the people
of one farmstead or several neighbours
This was accompanied by songs, singing
games, and various sounding instruments.
An important part of Christmas is also rich feast, the
year ended and have been harvested.
On the Christmas table had to be pig snouts, peas,
beans, sausages, pies and other delicious things.
Each dish had its own symbolic meaning
Eat peas - one day cry,
Eat beans - one day grow weight,
Eats snout - will be large writing,
Eat a round cake - expected a lot of sunny days.
On the Christmas table had to be peas and beans order to be lot of money. They were definitely to eat,
to next year would not cry.
Nowdays people bake gingerbread cookies and pies and
prepare a variety of savoury and sweet treats.
Children in Latvia believe that Santa Claus (also known as
Ziemassvētku vecītis - Christmas old man) brings their presents.
The present are usually put under the Christmas tree. The
presents are opened on during the Evening of Christmas Eve or
on Christmas Day.
Often the presents are secretly put under tree when people are
not around (such as when people are at Church). Sometimes to
get a present you have to recite a short poem while standing
next to the Christmas Tree! Before Christmas children learn to
say poems by heart. You might also get a present by singing,
playing a musicical instrument or doing a dance!
Some Old Christmas Beliefs
• On Christmas Eve you have to eat 9 different foods at one
sitting then next year will be a wealthy year.
• In order not to run out of money in the New Year then you
mustn’t spend all your money at Christmas.
• On Christmas Eve must run barefoot around the house three
times, so not hurt teeth
• On Christmas Eve all candles should burn for Happiness see
where to walk.
• On Christmas Eve keep the bread, salt and fire on the table,
then the next year will be a boon.
• On the Christmas table had to be peas and beans - order to be
lot of money. They were definitely to eat, to next year would
not cry.
The first documented use of a tree at Christmas and New Year
celebrations is in town square of Riga, the capital of Latvia, in the
year 1510.
In the square there is a plaque which is engraved with "The First
New Years Tree in Riga in 1510", in eight languages.
The tree might have been a 'Paradise Tree' rather than a 'real'
Not much is known about the tree, apart from that it was
attended by men wearing black hats, and that after a ceremony
they burnt the tree.
This is like the custom of the Yule Log. You can find out more
about the Riga Tree from this great website:

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