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Date 24 December
Next time 24 December 2015 (2015-12-24)
Frequency annual

In ancient Latvia, Ziemassvētki (Winter holiday) was a festival, celebrated on 22 December, which was one of the two most important holidays, the other being Jāņi. Ziemassvētki celebrated the Winter Solstice.[1] The two weeks before Ziemassvetki are called Veļu laiks, the "season of ghosts." Three postage stamps were issued on 3 December 2005 to commemorate this festival.

During the festival, candles are lit for Dieviņš and a fire is kept burning until the end, when its extinguishing signals an end to the unhappiness of the previous year. During the ensuing feast, a space at the table is reserved for Ghosts, who was said to arrive on a sleigh. During the feast, certain foods are always eaten: bread, beans, peas, pork and pig snout and feet. Carolers (Budeļi) go door to door singing songs and eating from many different houses. Celebrants believe that during the feast ghosts arrive on a sleigh.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mellēna, Māra (2000), Latvian Seasonal Holidays, The Latvian Institute, retrieved October 4, 2013