Why do Latvians wear masks on Christmas?

Take note – story published 4 years ago

Why do some Latvians wear masks on Christmas, what does it mean and what were the Latvian masked procession traditions? The folklore collective Grodi answered these questions and more on Latvian Radio.

At Christmas time, Latvians go from house to house wearing masks - the folk visiting Latvian Radio were Cranes and Bears, but mask-symbols of Goat, Ram and Death are popular too - and wreak havoc among unsuspecting locals who let them into their homes.

In one of these scenarios the gypsy matron gives a surprise birth and the masks start looking for the father, who is often found in the household who let them in.

Similar traditions can be found across other parts of Europe.

The ritual is a good way of unleashing chaos and through that to compose oneself once again - to do things that aren't allowed in everyday life so that afterwards you can be orderly and peaceful again, members of the collective told Latvian Radio.

"[During these walks] something has to die [..] and something has to be born. That is the quintessence of these processions," one of the members told Latvian Radio.

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