In Latvia, each family may select their Christmas tree from the Latvijas valsts meži, what in the United States would be termed National Forest. There are regulations in place to ensure the health of the forest, and to protect environmentally sensitive areas and parks (for example seedlings in regeneration areas cannot be cut), but the tradition is a beautiful reminder that the national forests belong to each and every Latvian citizen.
Recently Māris and Nora headed into the country to find their Christmas tree. The snow was magical, the kind that sticks to everything, and the forest roads were enchanting, if a bit perilous.
Using the Latvijas valsts meži (LVM) map app, they had charted a course that would take them on a tour of what overnight had become a winter wonderland. The car had been carefully packed with piparkūkas, mandarin oranges, and hot tea, and the saw which had been purchased from Depo for just this purpose was in the trunk.
As daylight was growing short they emerged from the woods with the perfect eglīte in hand, the scent of the woods accompanying them home. What a beautiful Christmas gift from the forest!
Māris and Nora’s photographs bring back memories for me, of Lauris’s first Christmas. We were en route from France (where we were living at the time) to the US, and Lauris was just 7 months old when we finally found our Christmas tree in the snowy darkness of a Latvian winter evening. Have you ever cut down your Christmas tree in a forest?
For more information on responsible harvesting of a Christmas tree within LVM, please visit the official website. I’m also curious to hear from the Lithuanians and Estonians if there is a similar program in their national forests…
Thank you to Māris for sharing his photographs as well as the details of their Christmas tree harvesting excursion! Tomorrow on 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas we’ll traverse the globe from Estonia to the US – hope you’ll join us!