As we say farewell to Christmas celebrations in Kenya, we travel Northeast to Latvia, 6,437km away.
Latvia is a small country with just under 2 million in population. It covers an area of 64,589 square km.
Looking out over the Baltic Sea, Latvia has a coastline of just under 500km and boats many beaches - not a destination you'd think of for beach holidays so a bit of a European hidden gem.
Not only does Latvia have a long coastline, it also has 12,000 rivers and 3,000 lakes.
So, how do they celebrate Christmas in Latvia?
Christmas is celebrated on 25th December in Latvia.
Around 80% of the Latvia people follow Christianity - Lutheranism being the largest of that group.
Christmas trees are popular and the first recorded Christmas tree was supposedly in Latvia. A large tree is erected in Riga every year, where the first Christmas tree was said to have been. Traditional Christmas tree decorations were made of natural materials such as straw, but now trees are decorated depending on the individual and what they want.
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Ziemassvētku vecītis (Christmas old man) leaves Christmas presents under the tree for children on the evening of Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (usually whenever the children are out at a Church service). It’s a tradition that in order to be left gifts, the children have to recite a poem by the Christmas tree, or they can sing, play an instrument, or dance. Christmas in Latvia is also closely associated with the Pagan celebration of Yule and so the tradition of dragging a Yule log around the house before burning it has become a Christmas tradition in many areas of Latvia. The Riga Christmas market is open all December and sells traditional decorations, handmade crafts, toys, gingerbread, sauerkraut, and smoked meats, among many other things.
The main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Day and usually consists of brown peas with bacon sauce, cabbage, and small pies, as well as sausages and bacon rolls. A common dessert and treat is gingerbread.
Our next destination looks at Christmas in Lebanon.