Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Letters From Latvia - Nica 24th December 1947


Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series click HERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.


A blanket of snow covers the Čirkšis family farm.
Christmas time in Latvia, 1947: The tree decorated is decorated on Christmas eve with candles, the temperature is -15 degrees, the church bells are ringing and snow blankets cover the land. 

Christmas time in Australia 2013: Christmas decorations are on sale in supermarkets starting in October already! No one would dream of attaching a candle to tree outside let alone inside your house and Christmas is characterised by 30 degree + temperatures and total fire bans.

Despite all of the differences, I remember reading Latvian poetry at christmas time, a tradition that connected me (as much as possible for a non-latvian speaker) to the country of my ancestors. I was a good tradition that fell by the wayside over time. Perhaps this year, I will read Latvian poems to my children and maybe one day, we will experience a white christmas in Latvia.... But now I am dreaming so here is the 13th letter in the series:

Nica, 24.12.47
Our dear Janis, Lidija and Ilmars!

It is Christmas Eve and we are missing you and yours most, dear Janis, so we want at least to send you our very loving festive greetings. – We have already finished all the jobs. Mum, grandmother and I have already been to the sauna to bathe, now father and the foresters are there. Everything is clean and tidy, yesterday we decorated the tree, which is a bit more colourful this year. And I have to think about you so much, my dear brother, you are away, you are not in our midst and have spent so many Christmases already far away, in foreign places. We wish that Christmas will be as happy and as bright as possible for you, mummy wishes that for you from her heart and hopes so much that we will be able to celebrate next Christmas all together, much more happily. This year we will stay strong in our hope and be patient, we will send you the most loving greetings and good wishes in our thoughts. Tomorrow night we will light the candles on the tree – then the foresters will come over, they are our nearest neighbours. We will be with you in our thoughts and I will try to imagine that you are in our midst even for a moment….

The church bells are ringing – they are ringing in the Christmas Eve. It is so lovely and festive. I have to go to the church tonight to sing, our choir will sing at the service. Nature too is clad as for a festival, in a white coat of snow. The road is good for a sleigh ride. The cold at night at about -15⁰C, in the day the cold eases up and then there is a snowstorm, at the moment the weather is fine.

Otherwise we are alright. We are working and living as of old, all just as before. – Here in the Soviet land we have new money, more valuable. The prices for farmers’ produce are not fixed. There is a lot of produce at the market, the farmers go to the market at Christmas to trade and to buy clothes. -  Our very, very best wishes to you, our dear Janis, Lidija and Ilmars and have a happy, bright Christmas! We will be with you in our thoughts! 

Mummy, grandma, dad and Kate.

It's a little early in the year but if you have a Latvian Christmas tradition or story post it below!

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