Let the flames rise! Christmas tree’s fiery origins, pagan roots

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Dressed in pagan people costumes, Latvians collect on a sq. in the centre of Riga for a ceremony that some historians see as the historic precursor to the Christmas tree custom.

But these vibrant revellers celebrating the winter solstice haven’t come to brighten a tree, however to burn one.

After dragging a tree trunk by rope via the streets of the Baltic capital, the wild trying bunch then put it on a bonfire.

In medieval instances, individuals would put the timber of their properties forward of solstice earlier than dragging them off to their fiery finish.

“The tree stump symbolises all the pieces that went mistaken this 12 months,” mentioned Liga Lukashunas, certainly one of the celebrants and head of Riga’s Ritmus cultural centre.

People wearing folk, pagan masks perform with music instruments during the Winter Solstice celebration at the Town Hall Square in Riga, Latvia. Photo: AFP People sporting people, pagan masks carry out with music devices throughout the Winter Solstice celebration at the Town Hall Square in Riga, Latvia. Photo: AFP

“We collect all our dangerous ideas, wrongdoings or well being troubles into these logs which then go up in smoke, permitting the upcoming 12 months to have a contemporary begin.”

First medieval timber

Near to the place the ceremony completed, a plaque on the floor claims to be the spot the place the world’s first embellished Christmas tree was placed on present in 1510.

The Baltic pagan tree-burning custom was initially picked up by German merchants, who developed the Christmas tree into its fashionable type and helped to unfold it via the Hanseatic League ports alongside the Baltic.

According to historic information, the unique tree in 1510 was embellished by the retailers’ guild in Riga with synthetic roses.

The retailers then danced round it earlier than setting it on fireplace.

A Christmas tree and the House of Blackheads seen in the background during the Winter Solstice celebration at Riga Town Hall Square in Riga, Latvia. Photo: AFP A Christmas tree and the House of Blackheads seen in the background throughout the Winter Solstice celebration at Riga Town Hall Square in Riga, Latvia. Photo: AFP

The first historic document of a Christmas tree in its present type comes from 1476 when one was put in in a home belonging to the metropolis’s Schwarzhaeupter organisation of overseas retailers.

The occasion was described by historian and linguist Guna Pitkevica in “The Great Christmas Book”.

They “embellished an evergreen tree of their Schwarzhaeupter House with decorations and sweets, carrying it out on the avenue after Christmas was over, to burn it down,” she mentioned.

By historic customized everybody in Latvia at the moment is entitled to chop down their very own fir tree for Christmas in state forests, which cowl roughly one third of the nation’s territory.

Aida Rancane, founding father of the people band Grodi, mentioned winter solstice ceremonies symbolised “the eternal rebirth of nature and the world round us, permitting individuals to resume themselves.” – AFP



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