Guest blog post by Pauls and Daiga of ThreadandPaintStudio
Christmas in soviet Latvia
Hello, my name is Daiga and I am from shop ThreadandPaintStudio and I would like to share memories about the time spent in Soviet Union when my current country Latvia was a part of USSR. And precisely I would like to tell you about Christmas celebrations in Soviet Union.
First of all there was no official Christmas, because as Christmas is religious celebration time it was simply forbidden. Instead of Christmas celebrations there were New Year celebrations, which of course are being celebrated much different as our ancestors used to celebrate Christmas. However the bravest ones on the Christmas morning headed for church and that might result in loosing job and destroying career or be disrespected in social life. Teachers, doctors and other profession workers were afraid of even mentioning Christmas however most people did celebrate Christmas at home, but just very silent, with no big Christmas trees, with no big Christmas presents packed in lovely shiny packing papers. Instead people did sing silently some Christmas songs and ate some cakes and they did that just in close family circles, because betrayal those times could hide anywhere.
Christmas Santa was replaced in USSR by “Ded Moroz” which means Frost Man or something like that and he visited children in New Year in their children gardens and he had always Snow White with him. Celebrations usually were telling poems to this Frost Man and getting present. Afterwards children performed some winter theme play and danced.
New Year’s feast wasn’t that cheerful as it is now, because there was quite a food deficit in the stores and you mostly did get some gray colored “white bread” potatoes, flour, milk and sour cream, so people had to be creative to make that feast tasty and colorful. One thing you could present on that table in normal quantities was tangerine, which was grown inside USSR, so tangerine in Christmas is our tradition which is popular also now. Banana however was pretty rare fruit which could be acquired by someone who knows someone who can ask someone to get some.
Later at home people had always a New Year’s tree (same spruce as in Christmas now just was called New Year’s tree instead), but the problem was limited amount and variations of decorations in the stores, so people again got creative and made their own using anything that shines sometimes hanging some vegetables in the tree. The celebration was lighting paraffin candles and bengals, opening bottle of soviet champagne and watching the same movies every year.
As that time not all people in the countryside had phone at home, so people sent loads of greeting cards.
Presents in Soviet times were also, like feast, very limited in variation and every kid normally got only one present or many smaller, like this rubber toy.
That is how I remember so called Christmas time in USSR, but one thing that was good is that families did celebrate that time of year together in close family circles.
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