Monday, November 29, 2010

One in the "eye" for Riga

Well it would appear anything London can do - so can Riga, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale !

With what seemed to appear out of nowhere, as I walked through Livi Sqare on Sunday, there it was Riga's EYE - see below

Sorry about the quality but I guess it was taken late in the afternoon (Many thanks to M....Swedish - Irish Bar officiendo) from whose Facebook page I "Borrowed" the picture.

Now given the current and forecasted temperatures, who exactly wants to climb aboard the open gondolas I am not sure, although one Extremist F....(Australian - with Kiwi pretensions) has already climbed aboard, after paying his Ls3.00 for a trip around - actually you get to go round three times for that sum.

So what with Feelings opening ( Or should I say re-opening) their "Outdoor bar" in Livi Square, with glass walls and a log fire inside - this just might be the place to see in Christmas.

The last three weekends have been a spectacle of rugby, and the Kiwibar has managed to show lamost all of the games, and the best bit - it was cretin free !!.

Not sure where they have gone but for the last few weeks it has been wonderfully quiet - and dare I say it, sfter the New Zealand game disaster, Scotland gained some respectibility with victories over South Africa and Samao (just) - Unfortunately just one game left Barbarians v South africa next weekend, and apart from Heineken Cup rugby, not a lot until Six Nations next year.

All has been quiet in Riga, at least for me , hence the lack of updates - but Winter definitely upon us -20C in country side last night and a little sprinkling of snow in Riga, and the festive lights and Christmas tree going up all over the place, it once again beginning to look like its ready for the festive season.

A couple of weekends ago following the Independence celebrations, Riga was awash with light displays covering many of Riga best know buildings.

And finally with Christmas fast approaching, Riga has once again taken it upon itself to remind the world that Latvia is the "home" of the Christmas tree, with first decorated tree erected in the Town Hall square some 500 years ago, if you want to learn more then check out the video on Live Riga website - likewise for a video of the Riga Light show.

But if you want more fanciful version read below

The people of Latvia have always loved to tell stories and uphold traditions. Over the centuries, autumn and winter evenings created a special environment for new stories to be made up. Myths flowed together with memories, and new traditions emerged. One legend has to do with the tradition of decorating Christmas trees began in Riga 500 years ago.

A well-known guild in Riga in 1510 was the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, which was made up of young tradesmen and ship captains. The Blackheads were very active in civic life. They supported various events and donated money to the church and the city.

As the Winter Solstice approached in 1510, the men of the brotherhood went into the forest to find the biggest fir tree that they could. They planned to set the tree on fire on the banks of the Daugava River, thus supplementing the age-old tradition of burning a log around the solstice.

The brethren found an enormous fir tree. When they got it back to Riga, they decided that it was too big to burn, because that would endanger surrounding buildings and people. The men returned to their building for a thorough debate about the matter, and the discussion lasted well into the afternoon.

Meanwhilelocal children found the tree on the banks of the river, wondered how it had gotten there, and agreed that it was a special tree, indeed. The kids were so excited that they began to decorate the tree with anything that came to hand. There were nuts and apples. Children unravelled their mittens for the colourful yarn. There were chains and crowns of dried berries and flowers. The children were so enthusiastic that they didn’t notice that the materials needed to decorate the enormous tree were increasing in quantity all by themselves! When it started to get dark out, the children said goodbye to the tree and ran home to get warm and to tell their families about what they’d found.

It was nearly dark when the Blackheads ended their meeting without a decision. One of the tradesmen went down to the river and saw, from a distance, the miraculous transformation of the tree. The decorations left by the children were covered in silvery frost, and the fir tree sparkled in the moonlight. The tradesman knew what to do. He brought his brethren to see the tree for themselves. They were amazed, and it was decided to install the tree in the city centre and decorate it for Christmas. This will be a Christmas tree.”

The tree was brought to the central market square of the city, where City Hall Square is now. It was raised to stand as if it were back in the forest. The decorations left by the children were supplemented with ribbons, toys and ornaments. The tree was blindingly beautiful. It was a celebration in and of itself.

When the men of the Brotherhood of the Blackheads began to add decorations to the tree, people came out of their houses and were surprised. They told each other that the fir tree had transformed itself miraculously, and soon enough the legend buzzed all around the town. People came running with decorations for the tree, and once the work was done, everyone was astonished at the tree’s beauty. “This is a Christmas tree – a gift which we should use to bring joy to each other at Christmas,” said one of the Blackheads.

Well, that’s the story. Christmas trees have lasted to this very day. Outside the House of the Blackheads, there is a memorial plaque commemorating the idea that Riga was where the first Christmas tree was decorated 500 years ago.

True or mythical ?? - makes for a good story,and gets the tourists in !

Finally a picture from the opening night at Donnegans - Good Pub, Good location, Good staff, check it out at


Anonymous Anonymous said...


From your erstwhile neighbour Chris Lawrence - lived in the next street to you.

Bless you for keepinf all Riga and Latvia lovers informed of goings on the lovely place.

I'll be seeing Chiou Yoke Wei mutual friend of JS and myself in Malaysia in a couple of weeks.

Keep up the good work. And happy Christams to you and all in the village.

12:29 pm  
Blogger skree said...

folow skreworld blog, it'll be right up your styreet

9:49 am  

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