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"Ziemas svetku vecitis" -- Latvia

The following is from a former Latvian:

Winter Holiday Old Man,
(Ziemas svetku vecitis)
The Latvian Santa is called Winter Holiday Old Man, (Ziemas svetku vecitis). In appearance he is similar to what the pre-christian God looked like. The usual ritual on Christmas Eve was for Santa to arrive after dinner when the folks were sitting around the tree and singing carols. His outfit was similar to the common Santa in US, except he also carried bells and birch switch. The kids made a presentation: music, sing, recite poem or tell a story to earn something from the sack. Usually, each kid got a present (small families gave all presents from the sack) and then Santa was off to visit other homes, but left extra full sacks for the head of the household to pass out. The Santa Claus is considered a pagan tradition, although I have seen him in church parties.

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