December 20 is winter solstice and celebration are happening in Town Hall Square at 18:00. There will gather folk ensembles to perform traditional songs, dances, rituals and games. Masks is one of traditions at this time of the year. People were wearing masks and going from house to house for fertility and blessing, dancing and sinning on the way and at the house they visited. Now this tradition have almost disappeared and are practiced only by folk groups. One of the traditions is to pull around wooden log and then burn it for fertility and blessing of the next year. Symbolic meaning is that by burning something old there is given space for something new to come.
Latvian Ethnographic Open-air Museum is beautiful place to explore Latvian Winter Solstice traditions. Most of traditions through centuries were practiced in country side and not in the cities as there more popular were Christian traditions. Folk artists will perform at different yards of wooden buildings which are Museums exposition- wooden farmhouses from different districts in Latvia. It creates atmosphere of authentic settings where people lived and practiced these traditions for generations. Also here symbolic log will be burned, people will wear masks, dance and sing. Also crafts and food market will be there.
There are several Christmas markets in Old Town squares and city center- woolen mittens, jewelry, warm slippers, candles, honey, sweets and many other crafts and local delicacies you can find there. Hot black balsam is typical local drink how to keep warm in winter, made from black currant juice and Riga Black Balsam.