Bank of Latvia commemorates first Christmas tree, mummers, water

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Bank of Latvia, which on Nov. 26 issued a silver commemorative coin marking the legend of the first decorated holiday tree on one side and depicting mummers on the other.

The bank also issued a 1-lats copper-nickel coin depicting a Christmas tree. Unlike the commemorative coin, which is meant for collectors, the copper-nickel coin will see circulation in the public.

The 1-lats commemorative coin, minted in the Netherlands, on its front side shows a man carrying a freshly cut fir tree. A squirrel is seen jumping from the tree. The coin marks the 500th anniversary of the first Christmas tree in Rīga, which is said to have been placed in 1510 during a street carnival outside the House of the Blackheads.

“To many (the) Christmas tree is something more than just a ritual object or a decoration,” the bank announced in a press release. “It is a symbol of vitality and rebirth, of uniting spiritual energy, of peace and brotherly love. These same ideas have motivated the Bank of Latvia to issue a special coin honoring the Christmas tree.”

The reverse of the coin depicts a group of mummers in traditional masks. During wintertime, mummers travel from house to house entertaining people in return for food and drink.

The coin was designed by graphic artist Edgars Folks. Jānis Strupulis is credited with making the plaster model.

A total of 20,000 coins in proof condition have been minted, half of which are for sale within Latvia, the bank announced. The bank will sell the coin for LVL 23.10 and it also will be available in jewelry and souvenir shops.

The 1-lats copper-nickel coin, like similar pieces, depicts the country’s coat of arms on its front. The reverse has an image of a decorated Christmas tree.

The Christmas 1-lats coin is part of a series highlighting various aspects of Latvian culture and nature. Other coins have included such images as a chimney sweep, a mushroom and a Namejs ring.

The coin was minted in Germany. Graphic design of the coin is credited to Arvīds Priedīte, while Ligita Franckeviča made the plaster model. A total of 1 million pieces will be put into circulation.

The Christmas coins are the second and third new issues this month.

The central bank on Nov. 16 issued a square, 1-lats silver collector coin honoring water. Designed by Ilmārs Blumbergs, with the plaster model made by sculptor Jānis Strupulis, the coin on its front side depicts flying droplets of water, while the reverse features an ice crystal.

The coin was minted in Finland. Just 7,000 pieces were struck.

Like the commemorative Christmas coin, the water coin will be on sale in jewelry and souvenir shops, as well as at the Bank of Latvia, where its price is set at LVL 25.30.

Christmas coin

A new silver 1-lats coin, issued by the Bank of Latvia and meant for collectors, features on one side a man carrying a freshly cut Christmas tree and on the other side a group of mummers.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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