The Riga Roosters
On top of the oldest Riga Churches - Dome Cathedral, St. Peter’s, St. John’s and St. Jacob’s – are decorations of roosters (weathercock), not crosses. According to Christian tradition, the rooster is a vigilant defender against evil, and with his morning song he can drive away all bad things. The time before the rooster’s first song is full of evil, and as Jesus told his disciples, “Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice”. Therefore the roosters should be raised as high as possible, to hear their songs from far away.
It is also true that the rooster on a church steeple serves as a wind indicator. This is very important for Riga as a seaport since the wind direction means a great deal for sailing vessels. Hence roosters decorate all the churches near the Daugava River.
There is also a legend in which a church rooster plays its (not the main one, though) role.
Tradition demanded that after the restoration of the St.Peter’s Church tower, which has been plagued by misfortunes for centuries, the construction foreman must sit on the rooster’s back, drink a glass of wine and then drop the glass to the ground. The number of fragments the glass splits into is the number of years the tower will remain standing. In 1746 the builder Johann Willburn dropped his emptied goblet of wine. The city’s inhabitants were frightened when it fell into a passing hay cart and did not break at all, so they believed the tower would soon collapse. However it turned out that there was no need to believe in superstitions because the tower stood for 200 years until World War II, when it burnt down along with the church on June 29, 1941 – exactly on St.Peter’s day. In his turn, in 1970 an architect dropped a glass of champagne from the restored church cock’s back, and it broke into immeasurable specks of dust.