Topic outline

  • Autumn and Winter Traditions and Festivals in Latvia

    Hello! How are you?

    Frankfurt International airport. Jānis Zariņš from Rīga and John Turner from Washington DC start a conversation in a café while waiting for boarding. Both are travelling to Riga, there is lots of time, so the conversation turns out really exciting..........

  • Part 1. What a surprise!

    The conversation between the two travellers turns out really exciting, and both are surprised to find out new and unexpected things.

    In the end of October the weather is gloomy, rainy and cold, but autumn brings a funny and cheerful celebration Halloween. However Jānis is of a different opinion and says that for the Latvians loud and noisy celebrations from October until the end of November are rather unacceptable.

    “This is the time to commemorate the people who passed away. This is the time for silence and peace, and good memories. The time of the Spirits. Nowadays there are lots of young people who do celebrate Halloween, but our ancient Latvian traditions are in contrast with it.” 

  • Part 2. Time to celebrate!

    “There is more to it than that!” Jānis adds. “Apart from the Night of the Candles, November also is a patriotic month for Latvians, as we celebrate even two national holidays during this dark month.  November 11 is Lāčplēsis day – a memorial day for soldiers who fought for the independence of Latvia and November 18 is the Proclamation Day of the Republic of Latvia. Both days are marked by lighting candles in different places, mainly at the Daugava riverside.

  • Part 3. It is time for Kekatas now!

    John is surprised. “If you do not celebrate Halloween, maybe there is some other traditional time of the year when you are allowed to wear masks, make fun, sing and dance, and play music?

    “Sure there is! Soon after the Night of the Candles we start getting ready for Christmas! This is the time for Kekatas, which is a traditional mask parade that goes along with certain traditions!”

  • Part 4. What’s the matter?

    John is really impressed! The most exciting thing is that Halloween is a cheerful mask parade, but it differs so much from Latvian traditions! The meaning of both mask processions – Halloween and Kekatas –  is as different as chalk and cheese!

    Jānis agrees by adding that even not all Latvian people keep to these ancient national traditions, there is a big variety in everything. Therefore misunderstandings may occur, if foreigners are unaware of local customs and rituals.

  • Part 5. Let’s continue!

    John is excited. Now he wants to find out if there is anything at all that Latvians and Americans have in common in terms of celebrating autumn and winter festivals.

    Jānis is happy to tell him that people in both countries will decorate the Christmas tree! Only some details may differ.

  • Let’s meet in Latvia!

    After a long and exciting conversation John is full of enthusiasm to find out as much as possible about his Latvian ancestors and their lifestyle. He could never imagine that there is such a lot of ancient customs, habits and traditions that are observed in Latvia, and that some of them are even celebrated in different ways!

    John and Jānis agree not to lose touch and exchange their phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

    We all wish them a nice day, hoping to meet them again!