«A Health Jump»
Winter solstice celebrations
Many of the Christian traditions in
Latvia are intertwined with earlier
pagan traditions. Winter solstice is the
shortest day of the year. One of the
ancient traditions was the rolling of
the wooden block around the house
to drive away any evil spirits from the
home. Then it was burned in honour
of the sun.
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
Often 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.
The legend says that the first Riga
tree was decorated with paper flowers
and burnt on the bonfire after the
Merry Christmas is
By Christian traditions on Christmas
Eve it’s not allowed to eat meat, but
Latvians are real meat lovers. So
there is Christmas Eve when there
have to be 9 different dishes for the
coming year to be rich (by pagan
tradition) which do not include meat
(by Christian tradition). These
traditions perfectly live together.
Today the most popular traditional
Christmas dish is boiled grey peas
with pieces of fried meat and bacon,
usually eaten accompanied by a drink
of rūgušpiens or kefīrs (curdled or
Other most popular Christmas meal is
roast pork with sautéed sauerkraut.
A modern festive table also often
includes carp, and fish scales are
placed in pockets and purses, so that
the new year brings a lot of money.
In western Latvia a traditional
Christmas snack is sklandu rauši
(tarts filled with a mashed potato and
You definitely have to eat boiled grey
peas – if you do it, you wont have to
cry the next year.
In the last 100 years it has also
become popular to bake gingerbread
at Christmas, another tradition
inherited from the Germans.
Christmas Day meal
The special Latvian Christmas Day
meal is cooked brown/grey peas with
bacon (pork) sauce, small pies,
cabbage & sausage, bacon rolls and
Balvi Primary school