Zvani skan, zvani skan, Ziemassvētki brauc… (Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas is coming…). Christmas is just around the corner, so it’s time for a quick look at Latvian Christmas-related Web sites. Every year we hope to find at least one new place on the Web that will inform about the uniquely Latvian way of marking this season. We’re yet to find one site that has everything, from the winter solstice to recipes for gingerbread to the Latvian take on the origins of the Christmas tree.
Let’s start with events associated with Christmas in Rīga. If you’re planning to spend the festive season in Latvia, the Rīgas Domes Kultūras Pārvalde (Department of Culture of the Rīga City Council) or Notikumi.lv can help with information on concerts and other events in the capital.
To save time and send your Christmas greetings to Latvian friends via e-mail why not try E-cards.lv, which has a wide range of seasonal cards to choose from.
To find out more about the traditional Latvian way of celebrating Ziemassvētki read the following articles on Latvians Online:
- Latvian winter festival marks shortest day
- British yule, Latvian blukis have similar roots
- Why Latvians should love fir
If you’re intrigued and want to find out more about Christmas, Latvian-style, the Latvian Institute site has a concise and informative write-up on Latvian seasonal holidays. Latvian folk songs, or four-liner pantiņi, about Christmas can be gleaned from the Krišjāņa Barona Dainu skapis, while more information about traditions is found in the folkore section of the Latvijas Izglītības informatizācijas sistēma (Latvian Education Informatization System). You’ll need to have a basic knowledge of Latvian to read these.
According to an article that appeared on the Apollo portal, Christmas is the season that is the dearest to most Latvians’ hearts, followed by Jāņi (summer solstice) and Mārtiņi.
We can’t forget that Latvia has a Christian tradition and the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is primary during this season. The nondenominational Zvans portal has a thought-provoking compilation of Advent- and Christmas-related articles by journalists and clergy, as well as opinions of the average Latvian “person on the street.”
Christmas for many is a time of reflection on the year and on spiritual topics that often get neglected during our hectic day-to-day routine. It is a time of generosity of spirit, expressed in part by the desire to help those in the homeland. Relatives often come first, but if you’re looking for Latvian charities to donate money to, a good starting point is Ziedot.lv. The site, set up in conjunction with Hansabanka, has a team of professionals thoroughly check the projects before they are added to the site, so you can be sure your money won’t end up in a middleman’s pocket.
Last but not least important is Latvian festive fare. What would Christmas be without piparkūkas, pīrāgi and the traditional roast? For discussions on these essential ingredients for a truly Latvian-scented Christmas, look at the Latvians Online Forum for piparkūkas recipes and hints for baking Receptes.lv and Cāļa virtuve. Happy baking!
On the Web
One of the leading news and information portals in Latvia, Apollo is a product of the telecommunications company Lattelekom. LV
Part of the family-oriented portal Cālis.lv, the kitchen site has plenty of recipes. LV
Looking for an electronic greeting card to send to someone? E-cards.lv has plenty. EN LV RU
The digitized version of folklorist Krišjānis Barons important work of gathering thousands of Latvian folk songs, or dainas, is searchable on a computer or on a mobile device thanks to WAP. LV
Charged with projecting Latvia’s image to the world, the government-run Latvian Institute has various articles about Latvian traditions and history, including holidays. EN FR LV
Created by the University of Latvia and the Ministry of Education and Science, LIIS provides access to digital resources for education. EN LV
Latvia’s most comprehensive events calendar offers a searchable list of events. DE EN LV
The recipe portal, created by Ideju parks, holds hundreds of instructions for preparing various foods, including traditional Latvian fare. LV
The Department of Culture of the Rīga City Council offers a rundown of events around the capital city. EN LV
Looking for a way to support a Latvian charity? Ziedot.lv reviews organizations and causes, while making the process of giving online easy. EN LV RU
The nondenominational portal Zvans focuses on Christianity and is organized by the Sv.Anna congregation of Jelgava. LV
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