Sunday, June 17, 2007

Līgo Jāņa bērni

Definitely the most Latvian of holidays is Ligo. The celebration of the shortest night of the year is preceded by drinking beer and eating cheese. When not consuming, it is mandatory to sing traditional Ligo songs. During the evening there is more drinking and singing, and at midnight each village has its own bonfire. The honorable women and men named Liga or Janis celebrate their namedays 23 and 24 June, exactly around midsummer night. The Ligas can be recognized by their crowns of flowers, while the Janis' have oaktree crown, symbolizing their power. Single women at a marriagable age should throw their flower crown in an oak tree; if it stays there, their year of marriage has come. Several other supernatural events are connected with the Ligo festivities. For example, you have to stay up the entire night, otherwise you'll be sleepy the entire summer. During this night is the only time the ferns in Latvia are supposedly blossoming. The single men and women are invited to search Latvias forests together for this miraculous event. This traditional activity has kept improving Latvias demographic situation for centuries already (more on midsummer)

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