Brussels lights up with Riga’s Christmas present

The Latvian Embassy in Belgium staged a flash-mob action – singing Riga’s resounding hymn, the folksong “Rīga dimd” to help ring in the lighting of the city’s gift to the people of Brussels, the enormous Christmas tree that will delight the EU capital’s downtown Grande Place/Grote Markt square with its uniquely Latvian decorations during its annual holiday festival.

The tree will be on display until January 4, as it heralds the end of the old year, when Riga sparkled as a European Capital of Culture and the start of the new, when the Latvian capital bridges into its role as host city for the Presiding state over the Council of the EU in the first half of 2015.

The tree is a gift from the Riga City Council, shipped to the site in coordination with the Embassy and City of Brussels.

The idea for the flash-mob version of “Rīga dimd” came from the success of a similar action to inaugurate the Capital of Culture year at the city’s Central Market. Brussels’ Latvian community vocal group Ugunis and many locally residing Latvians took part in the impromptu choral performance in honor of the season and their host-city.

The mayors of both cities Yvan Mayeur and Nils Ušakovs were on hand, along with local diplomats and cultural officials.

Even the town’s mascot peeing-boy fountain Manneken-Pis was decked out and sharply-dressed in cozy-warm Latvian-folk garb for the occasion.

 

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