Customs and Traditions of Latvia
Population and religion
According to Countryaah, about 60% of Latvians live in Latvia, 27% of Russians, 4% of Belarusians, 3% of Ukrainians, 2% of Poles, 1% of Lithuanians, other ethnic minorities are Jews, Gypsies, Germans and Estonians. In addition, almost 15% of the country’s inhabitants do not have a certain citizenship (“non-citizens”).
The state religion is not accepted in the country, the majority of Russian-speakers consider themselves Orthodox, many believing Latvians in the center and west of the country profess Lutheranism, Lithuanians, Poles and Latgalians in the east and south of the country consider themselves Catholics. In addition, there are Old Believers, Baptists and adherents of other common religions in Latvia.
The state language of the country is Latvian. About 70% of the population speaks Russian. Check agooddir for recent history of Latvia.
Rules of conduct for tourists
Latvians can be called cheerful people who take care of their land. In comparison with the Slavs, the inhabitants of Latvia seem to be more calm and patient. Also, Latvians are distinguished by independence and perseverance. It should be remembered that some things that are accepted in Russia are unacceptable in Latvia.
Behavior in public places
- In Latvia, smoking is not allowed in public places.
- You can get a fine for walking in public places (including streets and parks) with an open bottle of alcoholic beverage. The bottle is recommended to be placed in a special bag. In addition, after 22.00, alcoholic products are distributed only in restaurants and bars.
- Also, a fine or even arrest can be obtained for being in public places while intoxicated or in violation of public order.
- In the center of the capital, it is forbidden to walk on the lawns and lie on them.
- Caution should be exercised in contacts with strangers.
- When visiting local temples, one should remember the rules of decency in appearance; closed, modest things are recommended.
Communication with Latvians
The rules of conduct when communicating with the local population of Latvia are not much different from generally accepted European rules. Latvians welcome restraint in communication. The best sign of gratitude would be a gift in the form of a bouquet of flowers. In the society of this country, name days are celebrated in the same way as birthdays.
National holidays and memorable days of Latvia
There are a lot of holidays in Latvia. The most interesting and solemn holidays and festivals take place just in the tourist season.
1 September is the day of knowledge
September 22 – Day of Unity of the Baltics
First Sunday in October – Teacher’s Day
November 11 – Day of the Latvian national hero Lachplesis
November 18 – Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia in 1918
The first Sunday of December is the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Stalinist Regime
December 24-26 – Christmas (winter solstice)
December 31 – Old Year’s Day
January 1 – New Year
January 20 – Day of Remembrance for the Defenders of the Barricades 1991
January 26 – International Recognition Day of the Republic of Latvia
March 8 – International Women’s Day
March 25 – Day of Remembrance for the victims of the genocide under communism
Spring – Christian Easter
May 1 – Labor Day
May 4 – Proclamation of the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Latvia
May 8 – Day of Victory over Nazism and Day of Remembrance of those killed in World War II
May 9 – Europe Day
Second Sunday in May – Mother’s Day
June 1 – International Children’s Day
June 14 – Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Stalinist Regime
June 17 – Occupation Day of the Republic of Latvia
June 22 – Memorial Day of the Heroes of the Battle of Cesis
June 23 – Ligo Day
June 24 – Janov’s Day (summer solstice)
July 4 – Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Jewish Genocide
August 11 – Day of Remembrance of Latvian Freedom Fighters
August 23 – Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Nazism and Stalinism
One of the most famous festivals is the National Song Festival, which has been held every five years since 1873. Janov’s day and Ligo’s day are considered special events. On these pagan holidays, the inhabitants of the country tend to go out into nature and prepare special dishes.
The main holiday of the year in Latvia is Ligo, which is celebrated on June 23-25. Nobody works these days. According to the church calendar, the Ligo day does not coincide with the summer solstice, but the holiday remains completely pagan. On the holiday it is customary to brew beer and cheese, and bake bread. On this night, wreaths are woven from flowers and floated on the water, and they also look for flowering ferns in the forest. Young couples, holding hands, must jump over the fire.
Latvia has the reputation of a “singing country”. Among the music festivals, it is most interesting to visit the International Organ Music Festival in the capital, which is held in June, the July Opera Music Festival in Sigulda, the Early Music Festival, held in Bauska Castle in July, the KVN Music Festival, organized in Jurmala in July, the traditional summer competition young performers “New Wave” in the city of Jurmala and many others.
In addition, the Beer Festival, “Retro Jurmala” – International Rally of Antique Cars, the Festival of Rural Chapels in the city of Cesis, the International Regatta and other holidays are very popular.