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For Latvia Christmas – the holiday is not only Christian, but also deliberately state. For many decades of Soviet power, local Catholics and Lutherans were forbidden to decorate Christmas trees and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Immediately after the republic's secession from the USSR, the holiday was revived, and now everyone in Latvia, including numerous tourists, celebrates Christmas.
Until the 20th century, Christmas in Latvia was celebrated for a long time - the first preparations for the holiday began a month before and ended on the day of Epiphany. In addition, it became truly popular only in modern society – previously, only Catholics and Lutherans had the right to mark it.
Christmas market in Riga
Now Christmas preparations in every Latvian family – the most pleasant chores at the end of the year, which include all family members. It is customary to give gifts in Latvia not only to children, but also to adults, which guarantees a high demand for goods throughout the country.
By the way, modern Latvians do not recognize long celebrations. Official holidays at Christmas are only two days here – December 25 and 26 – but preparations for the holiday start traditionally: on Christmas Eve.
Christmas traditions in Latvia
For most Latvians, this day is associated with folk traditions that are actively intertwined with Christian customs. Not complete without unique rituals, which can be seen only in the Baltics.
The rite of log-drawing is still actively observed even in Riga, and in small Latvian villages it can be seen everywhere. The essence of the ritual is to drag a log around your house, symbolizing the failures and sorrows of the outgoing year, and then burn it. They burn logs on small bonfires, sometimes neighbors build a large campfire for several houses at once.
Christmas carols are worn in Latvia special character. As in Russia, it has always been customary to dress up in animal masks. In addition, only Latvian children actively used skins – especially if one of the parents was hunting. Now the carols are beginning to be forgotten, but still in the villages you can find companies of mummers, who are treated to fried chestnuts and sweets.
Important: Latvia – one of the countries claiming the birth of the European tradition of decorating a Christmas tree. It is officially believed that the first Christmas tree was decorated in Strasbourg in the 16th century, but Latvians strongly disagree with this version of the origin of the tradition.
After the traditional preparations and preparation of the Christmas in modern Latvia it is customary to wait for dinner for a festive morning. Masses in Catholic and Lutheran churches are still held today, but there are noticeably fewer people coming to them.
The night of December 25 in Latvia, as in most European countries – this is the peak of the festivities. Bright illumination is lit on every city street, entertainment establishments switch to a festive mode of operation, and musical concerts and festivals timed to coincide with Christmas take place in squares and open stages.
The main decoration for Christmas in Latvia is – advent wreath. The wreath is made from scrap materials: twigs, hay, straw, plant stems. Decorated with cones, fruits, nuts, Christmas ribbons, beads and other decorations. But most importantly - 4 candles, which are lit every week before Christmas, one at a time. Wreaths decorate apartments, houses, porches, offices.
Special meaning on this day is given to the festive table. Branded Christmas turkey began to be actively used by Latvians only in the last 20 years; before that, completely different dishes were the main decoration of festive tables.
The main dish – peas with speck. There are a lot of recipes created just for Christmas in Latvia, often every family has its own cooking secrets. There are no strict requirements for the smoked meats themselves – instead of dry-cured pork, beef, chicken or even fish can be served on the table. The only requirement is – all peas from the served dish must be eaten.
Important: Latvia has also invented its own type of holiday cookies – piparkukas. Before baking, a special sort of aromatic pepper and other spices are added to the dough, which creates a recognizable pleasant smell. In addition, Latvian pastry chefs make real gingerbread houses from piparkukas dough, which often become a Christmas present.
Traditions of nativity scenes for Christmas in the territory of modern Latvia were formed already in the 13th century, and you can still see vivid scenes from the Bible in churches. Modern churches in the country are planned in such a way that in the main hall there must be a niche for a nativity scene. They are made of ceramics, wood, and other materials.
Among other things, santons & ndash began to appear in Latvian homes again; home versions of nativity scenes. You can buy them at any Christmas market. They are glazed boxes, inside which are the classic characters of the den – Jesus, Mary, Joseph and several biblical animals, most often – donkey and bull.
At the end of the gala dinner, Latvians can go to the final evening mass, or they can go to one of the concerts that are held throughout the country until late at night.
The final day of Latvian Christmas – St. Stephen's Day, or Christmastide – it's December 26th. This day is held in high esteem among many Latvians. First of all, thanks to the name of the saint. Also all over Europe `` on Stefan '' there are many important rituals.
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Topic: Christmas in Latvia.