Holiday Traditions in Russia and Latvia

I love hearing about holiday traditions–it is so fascinating that each family celebrates Christmas and the New Year in vastly different ways. My curiosity led me to ask two camp friends to share holiday traditions in their home countries. The first comes from Karen in Russia:

“In Russia we don’t usually celebrate Christmas, instead of it we celebrate The New Year. It is almost the same. We get a “New Year tree” a.k.a.  a “Christmas tree”. Kids get presents, everyone is happy.

The holidays las from 26th December to 9th o 10th of January. We like to meet the New Year at home with our relatives. At 12 o’clock we sit at the table and say best wishes for the New Year. The New Year is always connected with our new plans and dreams. It is a pleasant moment to get presents on the New Year. At night we watch TV, dance, make jokes and go for a walk with my friends.”

Here is what Toms usually does for Christmas in Latvia:

“It is definitely a family holiday. It’s that one time of the year when everyone gets together, has a nice dinner, and just has fun. One obvious tradition we have is putting up a Christmas tree. Most countries I know have this tradition as well, but what makes this tradition so special for Latvians is the fact that the very first Christmas tree ever was documented here in Latvia about 500 years ago.

Our family gets together on Christmas eve. We have a nice dinner, and then we move on to the gift exchange the same night. Some years (especially when I was younger) my parents would get someone dressed as Santa Claus to knock on the door and come in with a big bag of presents for all the kids. He would sit down and take one gift out at a time. When he called your name, you had to go up to him, and he would ask you to perform something in order to get the gift. It could be a little Christmas-related poem, a song, whatever. This is a tradition that everyone does in Latvia, and I’m sure most people in Eastern European countries and Scandinavia do it.”

Very cool! It seems that despite country or family, being with friends, family, and loved ones is a tradition for all. I’ll leave you with how Mary Baker Eddy celebrates the Christmas holiday:

 in Miscellany (page 262), Mrs. Eddy says: “I love to observe Christmas in quietude, humility, benevolence, charity, letting good will towards man, eloquent silence, prayer, and praise express my conception of Truth’s appearing.”

I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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