Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius have a particularly fascinating atmosphere at Christmas, rather reminiscent of a fairy tale. Although these countries are very close to each other, each has its own Christmas traditions. From 24 to 26 December, it's time to organise a trip to the Baltic States and visit Christmas markets, taste national sweets and find out who brings presents to local children - Santa Claus or someone else?
Christmas in Latvia
Christmas is celebrated in Latvia with special love - the first preparations for the holiday begin in autumn and end on Epiphany. Every member of the family takes great pains to celebrate Christmas properly. Locals still adhere to old traditions and perform the ritual of dragging logs. Of course, in the city center you can hardly find anyone with logs, but in the villages it is often observed.
The essence of this interesting custom is to drag logs, symbolizing the failures and troubles of the past year, around your house and then burn them.
There are also Christmas carols in Latvian villages, where the inhabitants dress up in animal masks and are served roasted chestnuts and sweets. And the children put on animal skins.
On the night of December 25, the country is immersed in a festive atmosphere. Every corner of the city is brightly lit, shops are open for a shorter time, there are various concerts and festivals.
Latvian children wait for Christmas presents (on Christmas Eve) and Santa's helpers - working elves (rūīīši) - carry them.
The festive table has a special significance at Christmas. The main dish is peas with bacon. If you come to Latvia, you must try this dish.
A long time ago, a special festive pastry was invented - piparkukas. Allspice and other spices are added to the dough, which creates a Christmas aroma.
Christmas in Estonia
From December 24 to 26 there is silence in Estonia. All the locals celebrate Christmas in a quiet family circle. Even the streets of Tallinn are unusually quiet and peaceful during this time.
Christmas in Estonia is a very important holiday, when everyone should rest. Shops either do not work at all or very little, there are no events and concerts.
The city transforms beyond recognition. Festive lights burn everywhere, colourful garlands hang and shop windows are beautifully decorated. In the churches of Tallinn you can attend free concerts of classical organ music.
Estonians like to feast on blood sausage at Christmas. And the traditional drink is mulled wine with cinnamon (hõõgvein).
Christmas in Lithuania
In Lithuania, Christmas is also considered a family holiday and begins on Christmas Eve. Among the locals, this holiday is better known as kuchios. Only a lonely neighbour or acquaintance can be invited to a festive meal, there are no more guests. Most traditions are associated with dishes for the festive table. Christmas in Lithuania, however, is a time of magic.
The girls advise marriage at this time. There are many different and funny divinations. For example, to find out where the groom will come from (from what part of the world).
You can not do without spells. Each family has its own. Also, at midnight, the animals begin to talk to each other in human voices, and if someone hears this, it brings bad luck.
Only lean dishes are served on the table. According to tradition, there should be 12 different dishes on the table, including fish, mushrooms, cranberry jelly, vegetables and fruits, and "slizhiki" pies.
All residents exclude alcoholic beverages from the holiday menu.
Meat dishes are served only on December 26. And on this day, neighbours and friends are allowed to visit each other.
We congratulate you all on the holidays and wish you a Merry Christmas!
Come to the Baltic countries and experience this Christmas fairy tale for yourself.
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