Germany’s TV programme: Christmas in Riga

It is believed that in 1510 children came across the fir tree installed by the Fastelavn* revellers in front of the Blackheads House in Riga, meant for the ritual to celebrate the winter solstice, decorated with apples, straw decorations and coloured string. The decorated tree was so beautiful that the tradition was retained and spread throughout the world – at least according to the Latvians.

Journalist Kristin Recke is in Riga to follow in the footsteps of the fir tree. Although debates arise over the Christmas period with the neighbouring city of Tallinn, who also claim to have had the first decorated Christmas tree, Riga is still considered to be the city of origin of the Christmas tree and this legend is still strong in the capital city. This is reason enough for Baltic Sea region journalist Kristin Recke to come to Riga.

Here she will meet Head of the City Festival Coordination Unit, Guntars Kambars, who has his hands full in the pre-Christmas period. Artist Visvaldis Asaris will allow access to his workshop, where the interesting landscape objects for the festival “The way through the Christmas trees” are taking shape. During her visit Kristin Recke will learn about the ancient Christmas traditions such as “dragging the log”, the pig’s snout and brown peas eaten at the Christmas feast and the wearing of masks.

Other subjects in the programme:

Christmas market in Oslo
Latvia: In the footsteps of Heinz Erhardt
Finland: animal tales from the north

The programme was recorded in German, watch it here.
15 December 2019, Christmas TV NDR recording group

*a carnival tradition in Northern Europe