Big decision: Riga chooses its Christmas tree

One of the most important tasks of any Riga mayor is the choosing of a Christmas tree for the city that claims to be the birthplace of Christmas trees. 

Current mayor Nils Ušakovs showed himself up to the task Monday when he selected a 15.5-meter tall, 50-year-old titan from the forest surrounding the city which will adorn the spot just outside the City Hall and Blackheads House that boasts a large plaque giving Riga's full Christmas tree credentials.

Ušakovs was helped in his choice by schoolchildren and his deputy, Andris Ameriks, so if by some unlikely chance the tree shows a tendency to fall over, he can take the blame.

As well as cutting a tree down, Ušakovs and his little helpers also planted 80 new trees, a move likely to satisfy even the Ghost of Christmas Future.

The choice is particularly important given Riga's oft-repeated claim to be the birthplace of the Christmas tree tradition owing to evidence that in 1510 a decorated tree was burned as a way of marking Yuletide.

Estonian capital Tallinn also claims to be the birthplace of the Christmas tree, plus some other places we can't even remember, but obviously they are wrong.

Here is a video produced by Riga's tourist agency outlining its rock-solid claim to the prestige of being the first place people hung sparkly things from a fir. We apologize in advance for the extremely cheesy voiceover.


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