Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum celebrates winter solstice

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Visitors at the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia celebrated the shortest day of the year by dragging the Yule log and observing other Latvian traditions, Latvian Television reported on December 22.

There were still a few days left until Christmas, but both the young and old turned out to celebrate the winter solstice with holiday games and other traditions, the most popular of which was pulling the Yule log. This tradition has various meanings. The log symbolizes the sun, which needs help getting over the hill, and also signifies fertility.

"The log is pulled around the field, yard and everywhere where people walk, it makes the motherland fertile," said museum Instructor Ieva Bērziņa.

The solstice celebrators accompanied the log with dances and songs. Many wore masks. Several attendees said that they wanted to go to the museum to celebrate the traditional holiday themselves, as well as show it to their offspring.

"I wanted to show my grandchildren what Latvian traditions are like. Our daughter lives in Holland and is visiting. That's why we want to show them all sorts of Latvian traditions,” said museum-goer Jānis.

Before being burned, each bad thoughts from the previous year are left in the log, so that they can disappear in the fire along with the log. All that was missing for a proper Christmas feeling was snow.

“I'd really want for Christmas to be white. I miss it. It's not like it keeps us from pulling the log or celebrating the holidays, it's not like that. But the mood, of course, is different when it's white all around,” added Bērziņa.

If you would like to pull a log around you yard, the instructor suggest you get in touch with a cultural collective to find out how to do it properly according to Latvian tradition.

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