Christmas in Latvia
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 the 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 musical instrument or doing a dance.
Latvia also claims to be the home of the first Christmas Tree! The first documented use of a evergreen tree at Christmas and New Year celebrations is in town square of Riga, the capital of Latvia, in the year 1510. Lots of people think the Christmas Tree first came from Germany, but the first recorded one is in Latvia. You can find out more about the Riga Tree from this great website: www.firstchristmastree.com
In Latvian Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus'. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.
The special Latvian Christmas Day meal is cooked brown/grey peas with bacon (pork) sauce, small pies, cabbage & sausage, bacon rolls and gingerbread.