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  first Christmas tree anno 1510 No one knows for certain who truly lays claim to the first Christmas tree ... but few dispute that it was in the area which is now Northern Europe. - History of the First Christmas Tree   -

When searching for the historical beginning of the first Christmas tree, one must go very deep into the past. Just like Santa Claus one finds that the first Christmas tree was combination of many different facts, legends and customs. The first documented use of a tree in a winter Christmas celebration was in several locations in Northern Europe including Estonia, and Latvia, in the year 1510 according to documents from the Blackheads Fraternity chronicles and from various sources in Germany. It is not totally clear whether the birthplace of the Christmas Tree was in Tallinn or Riga. As the two Black's Fraternity were related, one might conclude that it happen in both cities in the same years, 

- visit our new regional sites for "local" information  Estonia (TM) Original Oil painting Home of the First Christmas Tree (R) by Latvian Artist Ingmara Zalite www.LinenPaintings.eu purchase cards and re-prints Latvian artist Ingmara Zalite - -

In all countries that have adopted the tree as part of their festive celebrations, it is traditional to place all of the Christmas presents around the base of the tree. 


Christmas Traditions Around the World
Christmas is celebrated the world over, by almost everyone in it and in many different ways. Most cultures have similar themes and many Christmas traditions form part of the fun of the season for people who celebrate it. Many children leave Santa Claus a small treat before going to bed on Christmas Eve, which can be anything from cookies and milk, popular with US, Canada and a lesser extent the UK - who in the main tend to stick to sherry and a mince pie; Swedish children leave him rice pudding and Irish children leave him Guinness and Christmas pud.
What is left for Santa to put present in differs from culture to culture and sometimes family to family too. In the UK a stocking is traditionally hung on the fireplace or at the foot of a bedstead. In the US these are also popular, but are sometimes present bags. In Germany sacks are left out and in Italy and Portugal shoes are left out for presents, sometimes on windowsills and sometimes by the fireplace. However, in Venezuela, children leave out straw, which they wake to find replaced with presents. Some countries just place presents under the tree.
Presents are opened at different times depending upon where you are in the world. The most popular time tends to be Christmas morning amid excited children and often very tired parents. Italian children must wait until the 6th of January to open them as this marks the end of Epiphany, also Venezuela marks this tradition. Ethiopians exchange gifts in the 7th of January whereas some cultures exchange gifts at midnight on Christmas eve. Latvians believe Father Christmas brings presents on each of the 12 days of Christmas, which is a charming if potentially expensive tradition.

Music boxes have been around in some form since the 16th. century; but, it was the 19th century where the music box came into its current form and a became popular as a gift item. Celebrate this Christmas by giving a gift of Christmas music box collectibles to your loved ones.

Old Time Christmas Toys make Modern Day Christmas Presents
Nowadays, it seems like all anyone wants for Christmas is a new iPod or the latest e-reader. Christmas makes many people nostalgic for stringing popcorn in front of the fireplace, playing Jacks with cousins and opening gift boxes to find brand new toys. If you are someone who misses the way Christmas used to be, you may be pleased to find out that many classic Christmas toys are making a comeback in popularity.
One of the most classic Christmas toys is the Lego brick. Lego bricks were first created in the 1930s by a Danish carpentry company. Lego bricks have always been extremely popular since they provide a creative outlet for children. Lego products have expanded to include licensed characters, moving vehicles, a variety of shapes and colors and even a video game line. There are also several Lego themed amusement parks. Lego products still make wonderful gifts, just as they did decades ago.
Another gift that will never go out of date is the board game. As far as games go, video games are currently the norm. The concept of a board game will be new and exciting for your son or daughter. If you are going for nostalgia, you should consider purchasing Chutes and Ladders for your child. Originating in India as "Snakes and Ladders", this game has been around for centuries. As most of the game is based upon chance, Chutes and Ladders is better suited for younger children. Any board game of your choice will probably be appreciated by your child, since it is an opportunity for you to spend quality time together.
The pogo stick is another classic toy that never goes out of style. The pogo stick has been around since the nineteenth century. A variety of pogo sticks are currently available for purchase, from toy grade products to high performance sticks. Extreme pogo or trick pogo is a modern sport that centers on doing various tricks on the pogo stick and trying to jump as high as possible. If you purchase a pogo stick for your child, plan to spend your evenings recording their pogo tricks with a video camera so that they can post them on You Tube.
You should also think about purchasing a model train set this Christmas. Setting up a model train set is a timeless activity that will provide a classic Christmas memory and tradition for you and your child. Model trains have recently surged in popularity due to Thomas and Friends train sets. Thomas and Friends originated as a British children's television show in the mid-1980s. Since then, it has gained tremendous popularity in the US. The show still airs today, but it is animated using CGI rather than using physical models. Whether you choose to buy a Thomas and Friends model train set or a traditional, realistic version, your child will absolutely love it.
If you are convinced that your son or daughter will not be satisfied with the toys you grew up with, consider purchasing one nostalgic toy in addition to modern items. Look over a list of Top Christmas Boys Toys to figure out which modern toys are currently popular and supplement the contemporary gifts with the classic ones under the Christmas Tree.

The Christmas tree itself is synonymous with Christmas and most cultures have either a tree or some kind of festive greenery in the house. From sprayed branches, to foliage garlands and wreaths with candles in them, almost everyone has a symbol of the outside on the inside of their houses. The most common decorations for a tree are brightly colored glass or plastic baubles and tinsel. Candles were mainly replaced with fairy lights and bells are also popular choices. In the US popcorn garlands are sometimes used to adorn the tree and many countries will have an angel or a star on top of it. Opinions differ in whether an artificial Christmas tree or real tree is better and it is very common to use the same decorations year after year stowed away in boxes when not in use.
Other Christmas traditions include carol singing, traditionally in the UK carol singers knocked on a door and sang a Christmas carol. In exchange for this sometimes mince pies, or Christmas pudding was given to them or a shiny sixpence. It is now quite common for any money collected to be given to charity. Perhaps one of the most widespread traditions is the giving of Christmas cards, which come in many shapes, sizes and themes from cute animal pictures, shiny metallic, modern designs or religious themes. The one thing that every country does agree upon is that Christmas is a time for family and love of your fellow man.

- Riga Latvia was home of the first Christmas Tree

The location of this first recorded evergreen tree being used in a new year (Christmas) celebration was in Town Hall Square in Riga Latvia.
Located just meters or yards from the majestic Daugava River banks that was a major transportation route in the early Latvian development.


The most splendid building in the Square is the House of Blackheads originally built in 1334, and now rebuilt in 1995 - 1999), which hosted a brotherhood of unmarried foreign merchants. The town hall building across the square was built later and rebuilt again in 2003.

Just in front of the House of Blackheads is placed domed plaque marking the site of the first New Years (Christmas) tree ceremony.

  for more information   - - - - - - Download Christmas Icons - Home of the First Christmas Tree (R) - - - -

To make the perfect Christmas Holiday, find gift information and holiday ideas to fit your budget. 

Giving business Christmas cards is a great way to bring holiday cheer to the office and you can display Christmas flower decorations in your home to add some additional color to your holiday decor. 


Russia has traditional handmade Christmas ornaments. Germany has Christmas markets. But arguably the most well-known of Christmas traditions -- decorating the Christmas tree -- may have its origin in Latvia. And it's all but unknown.
In the past, there have been stories about Martin Luther walking in the woods near Riga and he created the first Christmas Tree. But actually, the Riga tree reference and the Martin Luther Tree reference are two different occurrences.

Riga's First Christmas Tree year 1510

The Martin Luther Tree was not the Riga Tree. In fact, little is known about the original Riga tree other than the fact that it was attended by men wearing black hats, and that after a ceremony, they burnt the tree.

This was a mixture of pagan and Christian custom, as were very many of the customs in Central/Northern Europe at that time.
The Martin Luther walk in the forest, believed to actually in Northern Germany and his lighted tree actually occurred several decades later.

In Latvia as in all of northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of Christian worship were begun as a part of pagan activities where people were living their life as they had done for hundreds of years before.
The pagans of northern Europe celebrated the their own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born, and was observed on the shortest day of the year. As the Sun God grew and matured, the days became longer and warmer.
It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and the sun, to reappear next year.
Huge Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. The word Yule itself means wheel, the wheel being a pagan symbol for the sun. Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual. Holly berries were thought to be a food of the gods.
The tree is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern European winter solstices. Live evergreen trees were often brought into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again.
In all societies, there were people who filled the roles of judge, doctor, diviner, mage, mystic, and clerical scholar - they were the religious intelligentsia of their culture.
These people often used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshipping huge trees and gathering around a large bonfire.
The legend says that the first Riga tree in 1510 was decorated with paper flowers and burnt on the bonfire after the ceremony; most probably, with a toast for the future, with steins held high!

According to Countess Maria Hubert von Staufer of the organization Christmas Archives International based in the England, "Riga is very important in the History of the Christmas Tree". 

Town Hall Square, developed in the middle of the 13th century, was initially a marketplace. Various celebrations, dances, games, tournaments, performances of mysteries, carnivals and parades took place there. The main function of the Square, though, was the administration of the city: the rules and orders of the Town Council were read out there.

Riga has come a long way from those early beginnings. Surviving the harsh Soviet occupation for 50 years, Latvia is once again one of Northern Europe's  most exciting places with great possibilities.

Latvians look like and consider themselves Nordics, evidenced through the strong cultural and religious influences gained over centuries during Germanic and Scandinavian colonization and settlement.

This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education and as a result is poised to become an economic powerhouse in the expansion of the Baltic countries.

The plaque is engraved "The First New Years Tree in Riga in 1510", in eight languages.