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Summer solstice “Līgo” or “Jāņi”
23 – 24 June
The Latvian midsummer celebration is celebrated as the summer solstice when the sun has reached its apex in the sky, with the longest day being followed by the shortest night of the year. Līgo Day and Jāņi Day- are on 23 and 24 June. The celebration starts on the eve of June 23 and lasts whole night. During these holidays Latvians get together in the countryside to celebrate with loved ones.
Summer solstice is the celebration in Latvia that has a lot of traditions – singing special Līgo folk songs, picking different sorts of wild flowers and making wreaths, setting bonfires, eating cheese and drinking beer. The main treat on the Summer Solstice table is traditional “Jāņu” cheese. The cheese symbolizes the sun. Traditional beverage for the Solstice is beer, which symbolizes the juices of life, because it is prepared from living grains. There should be bread and bacon pies on the summer solstice table, because the grains used to grind flour are a symbol of life and strength.
24 – 26 December
Christmas is celebrated from the evening of December 24 till December 26 and it is an important family holiday for Latvians.
Christmas is welcomed with a richly laid table, consisting of 12 foods. The reason for the many dishes is quite simple – the more dishes, the richer will be the coming year. Also, you can’t forget to put certain products on the table, such as peas and beans, so that you don’t have to cry next year. We eat pies to expect surprises in the coming year. Beetroot, carrots and other vegetables – for good health. Stewed cabbage must be eaten for strength. A roast bird ensures success, fish – money and wealth, but pork should be put on the Christmas table for happiness. And finally – gingerbread, for a lot of love.
The Independence Day of Latvia
The Independence Day of Latvia is the celebration of Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia which happened on November 18, 1918. Nowadays November 18 is a national holiday. Various public events take place all over the country, including military parade, concerts and fireworks. Families celebrate this holiday together, attending public events and at their homes.
The traditional table setting includes carmine red and white accents – the colors of Latvian flag.
Festive pretzel is the central treat at many events, and particularly on the Independence Day. The shape of the pretzel is associated with traditions and holidays, and its smell creates a special atmosphere associated with positive emotions and great company.
Easter is an important Christian holiday.
Each country has different beliefs and customs on Easter. Eggs are the symbol of Easter in Latvia.
The egg symbolizes the sun, new beginnings and perfection, and is one of the most popular symbols of this holiday.
Egg dyeing: ancient Latvians believed that egg dyeing with various natural gifts promotes friendship.
Egg Hunt: A favorite tradition in many families today is the hunt for eggs hidden by the Easter Bunny.
Egg Battles: This activity is also fun for both young and old. The belief says that the one who has the strongest egg will live long! On the first Easter, it is beaten with the thin end of the egg, on the Second Easter – with the thick end of the egg. When feasting with this festive symbol, do not forget to pour salt on it, otherwise you will have to lie a lot in the coming year.
Miķeļsvētki is the Autumn solstice.
It is celebrated in honor of Nature and harvest, when day and night remain the same length.
Miķeļday is an important holiday in Latvian annual tradition.
Miķeļday is a border period in nature and in the rhythm of human life – everything in nature has grown, the harvest has been harvested.
Miķeļdiena is characterized by organizing the Market and going to it.
In the Market, they sell the harvest, rejoice, dance and sing.
Usually, this Holiday is celebrated at the September, when Miķeļiem is his Name Day.
Usually on this day, some ancient food is prepared – koča, bukstiņputra (Latvian name) and sklandrauši or a special old name –žograuši.They are made from rye flour, potatoes and carrots.
It turns out very simple and delicious.
Sklandraušus usually eaten cold with tea or milk.
Sklandrauši is registered in the “Guaranteed traditional speciality” scheme, the first Latvian indication of geographical origin, and it denotes a quality agricultural product.
Mārtiņdiena (Martin’s day)
Mārtiņi or Mārtiņdiena is an annual Latvian holiday, which is celebrated every year on November 10. It is the day that marked the end of autumn and the beginning of winter for our ancestors, and was also the midpoint between Miķeļdiena and Christmas (autumn and winter solstices). Mārtiņdiena is considered the end of the laundry period, and it also marks the beginning of the time of mask processions, when people walk from house to house, dressed in interesting masks.
In honor of Mārtiņdienai, several dishes are prepared from chicken or goose, blood sausages, bacon pies and bread from autumn fruits or berries.
In gratitude to Jumim, a special loaf of Jumja bread is placed on the table, baked from three-day-old flour of the new harvest. The loaf is made larger and thicker than regular bread rolls.