Context is lacking in the post checked. Although the symbol of the Christmas decorations looks like a Nazi-style swastika, in actual fact it is a fire cross (ugunskrusts) that originates from Latvian folklore and history. National Encyclopedia of the Ministry of Culture of Latvia explains that although the symbol can have a contraversial interpretation, it is still steeped in Latvian mythology. On the territory of Latvia, the oldest finds of the fire cross date back to the third century.
In the city of Lielvarde, located in the central part of Latvia, the main New Year Christmas Tree was decorated with swastika symbols.
As part of the announcement, text with the following title was published:
Christmas Tree in Latvia decorated with Fasist symbols.
Reuter’s fact-checkers report that the symbol has its roots in Latvian history and folklore and it is not inspired by the swastika used by the German Nazi Party in the first half of the Twentieth Century.
On the territory of Latvia, the oldest discoveries of the fire cross date back to the third century. In the following centuries the fire cross can be found in archaeological material of all ethnic groups living in the territory of Latvia, reported Reuters.
The page explains that there are multiple variations of the cross, including those that look like the Nazi swastika and that the symbol was used by the Latvian Nazi-sympathizers in the 20th century. It adds however, that the use of the Nazi-style swastikas is illegal in Latvia unless “the purpose of use is not related to the glorification of totalitarian regimes or the justification of committed crimes”.
The Latvian law does not affect those cases when the cross of fire is in the context of folk ornament, folk art products or in other creative ways. Images of the Christmas decorations can be found on the Facebook page of the region and on theYouTube Channel.
Reports about the decorated Christmas tree in the Latvian newspapers and portals, do not mention that the symbol was inspired by Nazism. However, one of the reports in the media, reported that “Russian propagandists” refuse to believe the Latvian origin of the symbol.
Lead Stories fact-checkers report that the use of Nazi-Germany symbols is regulated with the Law on Safety from 2005, which stipulates that the swastika may not be used during a public event, except in cases when the purpose of the use is not related to the glorification of totalitarian regimes or the justification of committed crimes.
Due to the above-mentioned facts that we are checking, we assess this as a post lacking context. Although the symbol of the Christmas decorations looks like a Nazi-style swastika, in actual fact, it is a fire cross (ugunskrusts) that originates from Latvian folklore and history.
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