Latvia officially the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia, to the south by Lithuania, to the east by Russia, and to the southeast by Belarus, and it shares a maritime border to the west with Sweden. The capital and the largest city of Latvia is Riga. The official language is Latvian and the currency is called Lats (Ls).
Christmas Celebrations in Latvia :
The vast majority of Latvians are Christians. Most are Lutherans but sizeable Roman Catholic and Orthodox minorities exist. In past times Latvians often gathered together during the long evenings that surround the winter solstice to do needlework and other crafts, as well as to tell stories, guess riddles, dance, and sing. Though today Latvians honor Christmas as the birthday of Jesus Christ, their ancestors celebrated the winter solstice as the birthday of the sun maiden.
Children in Latvia believe that Santa Claus (also known as Ziemassvētku vecītis) 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. Latvia is closely associated with the Christmas tree, and some legends say it was in Riga that the first Christmas tree was decorated in front of the House of Blackheads on Town Hall Square in the beginning of the 16th century. Whether or not this is true makes no difference, because the tradition of decorating Christmas trees is alive and well in Latvia. One is erected every year in that legendary spot on the medieval square. Christmas trees in Latvia can be decorated in a variety of ways, but hanging Christmas ornaments made of natural materials like straw is one of the most traditional.
The special Latvian Christmas Day meal is cooked brown/grey peas with bacon (pork) sauce, small pies, cabbage & sausage, bacon rolls and gingerbread. Other Latvian Christmas traditions include the Christmas feast and the singing of carols. The mummer ritual in Latvia hearkens back to pagan times as singers dress up in masks and sing traditional songs.
Though Latvia celebrates Christmas on December 25, this holiday is closely linked with pagan winter solstice celebrations. Latvians mark the 12 days up until Christmas with gifts. In the month of December, one can purchase traditional decorations and sample Latvian Christmastime foods at the Riga Christmas Market. Another tradition associated with Latvian Christmas is the dragging of the yule log. In days gone by, after being dragged around the house, the yule log was then burned.
In Latvian Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Priecïgus Ziemassvºtkus’.
We wish all readers Merry Christmas 2016 & Prosperous New Year 2017 !!!