Friday, December 28, 2007

Cutting the First Christmas Tree in Riga

Forest rangers in Latvia say they are being overwhelmed by large numbers of people illegally cutting down Christmas trees near the capital Riga.
The number of wild Christmas trees is dwindling fast in the city's protected forest, the rangers say.The rangers say they are catching at least 20 people daily - but do not have enough staff to catch everyone. Latvians are allowed to cut down trees in designated national forest, 50km (31 miles) from Riga.
Eastern European history is uncertain whether Riga, Latvia can be appropriately credited with the first decorated tree that started this Christmas tradition.
The most common legend about the first Christmas tree is about Martin Luther, and his walk through a forest in Riga, where he spied the stars shining through the prickly boughs of an evergreen tree. Supposedly, Martin Luther brought the tree home and decorated it with candles to simulate the effect of stars. Or to explain to his children how stars twinkled. Or maybe he decorated it with lights in order to illustrate the “majesty of Christ’s birth.” This may or may not have occurred in 1510. And it may or may not have occurred in Riga, or even Latvia (maybe Germany).
The sources that attribute Latvia with having begun the Christmas tree tradition seem to be mainly PR websites for Latvian tourism or derived from a similar source

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