Sunday, December 18, 2016

Yet Another Baltic Christmas - Day 18, the Riga Christmas Market

Today Ilze joins us on 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas straight from Rīga, with an afternoon at the Latvian Christmas market!

A Walk through the Riga Christmas Market

There’s nothing better to light up the cold and dark Latvian winter than Christmas decorations and Christmas markets. They fill the air with smells of mulled wine and smoke from fires where meat is frying and almonds are roasting. You can find local handcrafts of all kinds while sampling various treats and enjoying festive music.

The main Christmas market in Riga opens annually on the weekend of the 1st Advent in Doma Laukums at the heart of the city. The beautiful Dome Cathedral serves as a beautiful backdrop to the Christmas market magic.

The various stalls offer everything you may need for Christmas gift shopping. There are stands with local handcrafts like colorful wool mittens and socks, wooden toys and kitchen utensils, beeswax candles, unique jewelry from silver and amber, and much more.

Other stalls offer healthy, and often quite innovative, delicacies from local honey and berries, as well as a variety of Latvian meats. Blood sausage with lingonberry jam anyone?

Of course, a Christmas market would not be complete without such classic treats as gingerbread, that comes both in traditional and modern styles.

If you are getting hungry, there is plenty to warm your tummy, often cooked in open fireplaces. Other stalls offer a considerable variety of berry mulled wines.

After spending a little while in the market, our two-year-old suddenly exclaimed: there’ s a rooster on top of the Christmas tree! Yes, indeed there was, and not only on the top of it.

Speaking of our daughter, her favorite stall at the Christmas market had nothing to do with food or handcrafts. She loved the small barn with sheep and bunnies so much that we stopped by three times so that she could feed them with fresh hay.

The market also gives an opportunity to learn about Latvian Christmas and winter solstice traditions. While we were visiting, a folk music group was singing traditional songs and everyone was invited to participate in dances and games (rotaļas).

While Christmas markets in countries such as Germany promptly close on the afternoon of the 24th December, the Riga Christmas Market stays open until January 6th. Visit if you have the chance!

Thank you Ilze! My boys would love visiting the barn, as well as to join in the rotaļas – how fun!

Ilze is a social researcher and an intercultural trainer, a mom and a blogger. Originally from Latvia, her path of education brought her to Northern Germany where she met her future husband and decided to stay for a little longer. Ilze blogs about her adventures in expat life, as well as trilingual and multicultural parenting at Let the Journey Begin, and can be found on facebook and Instagram. Thanks for joining us today on 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas, and we hope you’ll return tomorrow for an Estonian Christmas with the ancestors

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