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Riga Christmas Tree festival
December 2, 2015 - January 15, 2016
The first documented use of a tree in a Christmas celebration was in several locations in Northern Europe including Latvia. According to documents from the Brotherhood of the Blackheads chronicles in the year 1510 a chain of happenings in Riga ended up with transforming an ancient pagan tradition into a Christian one. Now Riga considered to be a Christmas tree birthplace.
500 years ago the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, a well-known guild of tradesmen and ship captains, was very active in civic life. As the Winter Solstice, a pagan celebration, approached in 1510, the men of the brotherhood went into the forest to find the biggest fir tree that they could. The purpose was to set the tree on fire, thus supplementing the age-old tradition of burning a log around the solstice.
After the brethren left the tree in the town on the bank of the Daugava River local children found it and began to decorate it with anything that came to hand. There were nuts, apples, chains and crowns of dried berries and flowers.
The Blackheads returned and found the decorations made by the children. They were covered in hoarfrost, and the fir tree sparkled in the moonlight miraculously. The tradesmen were amazed, and it was decided to install the tree in the city centre and finish its decorating to commemorate Christmas. Thus Riga became a Christmas tree birthplace.
Nowadays Riga’s authorities try to use that legend to attract tourists and their efforts don’t go to waste. Riga Christmas Tree festival takes place each year from 2 Dec. until 15 Jan. The whole city covers with different fur trees — traditional and innovative — attractive for locals ant tourists both in day and night. The trees are made by local artists, masters and Art Academy of Latvia students.
Important! It’s advised to specify the exact date of the Christmas Tree festival in Riga on its promo website each year if you are intended to visit Latvia on the outermost dates. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Riga!