Christmas in Riga

Possibly, Oldest founded Christmas tree decoration – exhibited at the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation.

A greyish glass ball with a metal hook, which Rigans possibly used to decorate Christmas trees with 250 years ago, was found during archeological excavations in Old Town Riga. This object is regarded as the possibly oldest known founded Christmas decoration in Europe.

The object looks very much like a ball for an ancient game. Such balls were made of ceramics or stone, later also of glass. The hook-shaped top leads to the supposition that the find might have been used as a suspended decoration while its spherical form suggests a likeness to the Christmas decorations as described in written sources: fruits and, since the 19th century, the popular blown-glass balls. The Riga find might have been a predecessor of the decorative balls for Christmas trees; however, it seems more likely that it had been a game piece that had been adapted to serve as an ornament by drilling a hole in it and threading it with a wire.

The unique item was discovered in the archaeological excavations of 2003, at Vaļņu Street No. 19 in Old Riga. The site, where the significant cultural object was found, had once been an area between Riga's fortification wall and river dyke, populated from the 16th century. A road system, including Vaļņu Street, was set up in this place between the 17th and 18th century.

Along with the Christmas tree decoration, many other items, used for daily needs, were found at the archeological site, for instance, leather footwear, knife sheaths, bags, harnesses, pieces of pipes, pieces of clothing, stained glass, etc.

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