This isn’t going to be quite about traveling, but about the most Latvian holiday of all – as we call it back home ‘’Līgo’’and ‘’Jāņi’’, it’s the midsummer celebration, which is celebrated from June 23rd to June 24th. It’s the celebration of the longest day and shortest night, and has been celebrated for many centuries, way before Christianity. Since I couldn’t be home for the celebration and Katie is having adventurous time in Europe, I wanted to introduce you with some things and festivities we do during the celebration of the shortest night.
The ideal celebration is in nature, making wild flower crowns (for girls) and oak-leaf crowns (for guys), and, if possible, wearing one of the national costumes or something made of linen (a shirt, skirt or pants). Latvians love beer, a real beer, and it’s one of the kind you won’t find anywhere else but Latvia, and beer takes a big part in midsummer celebration too. It wouldn’t be ‘’Jāņi’’ without a caraway cheese (and it’s even better if it’s homemade), we eat a lot of cheese… and since we are a meat lover nation, we grill tons of meat kabobs. We do have plenty of food on tables, but we don’t just sit down and eat, people sing folk songs about ‘’Jāņi’’ and dance folk dances around a bonfire. We usually don’t expect it to be sunny on June 23rd and 24th, we even say ‘’it rains as if it was ‘’Jāņi’’ since the celebration is mostly with rain, but it’s not an obstacle to have fun and enjoy the night and others company.
During a summer solstice, wild flowers have a healing power, so homes, offices, shopping malls, and even cars are decorated with birch and oak branches and wild flowers, this is one of the reasons of making flower crowns, and no doubt it’s also very pretty. Fire has a magical power as flowers do, therefore bonfire shares a powerful energy with people around it. This night is known as very magical, and myths say it’s the only night when people can see mysterious fern flower. This is a reason why couples sneak away in woods. Sleeping is only allowed after sunrise, and at dawn, you should walk through the morning dew (this can bring you money). If you wash your face in the morning dew, you are guaranteed to be beautiful. And here’s why Latvians are so beautiful.
It’s impossible to write about all the traditions we have, because there’re so many of them, however the most patriotic Latvians and midsummer celebrators probably know them all. Bonfire and countryside are the things to start off to make the celebration great. Even though most people leave cities, there are many celebrations going on in cities too, and they aren’t any worse. The right people and good mood take an important part for good celebration.
This isn’t something you will experience anywhere else, I think it’s something anyone should experience to see the real Latvian culture. Especially, if you’re fans of nature, countryside, Latvia is a place to go. It’s a small country, but it has its charm. This is a unique place with awesome traditions and a lot of things to show. And I encourage you to go to Latvia during summer (even better during midsummer celebration), and you will have adventurous time and an amazing experience, and tons of mosquito bites, but I promise it will be great.