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Midsummer, Latvian style

Latvia celebrates Midsummer or in Latvian “Līgo”. It is a difficult to translate word because it is way more than “sway” or something like that.

It is an ancient tradition, with traditional foods, traditional beer as drink and wreath. Most men wear the rich oak leaf wreath, but especially these ones, whose name is “Jānis”. We could refer to this name probably as John in English. Women, girls and older ladies wear a flower wreath. Options are endless, but there is definitely noticeable an attempt to compete for the most beautiful wreath. The wreath is supposed to also make the lady, who wears it, looking great, attractive and beautiful. Midsummer night calls for making love and finding your match. The ferns are said to blossom with golden blooms at midnight tonight, and whoever finds that bloom, has found a never ending love. So it’s said in many thousands of folk-songs. Couples go bloom chasing in the middle of night in the forest. Where else are you going to find a ferns blossoming?

My options in Canada are way fewer.

I sometimes make my own caraway seed cheese and hope it would be like the Latvian cheese. However, Canadian milk is not real milk, therefore, it is tough to get it acting like real milk, but taste is quite fine once I have all ingredients working.

This year and today, I am moving. We have been moving things for quite a while, but we hope to finalize the move today.

Midsummer

Therefore, not much celebration today, but it will be nice afterwards.

I won’t also have internet until it gets re-connected at the new place. I will catch up with everything some time next week. I’m using the pictures I took a while ago, but I think it makes sense because back then when I started this second blog, nobody ever saw or read it.

Midsummer

Have a great summer! Enjoy, savor, have fun!

Wrapping up the shortest day of the year

Wrapping up the shortest day of the year feels good. Knowing that it will be in the past very soon is uplifting. Having more daylight every day means moving towards the spring. This means to me almost like going home. Spring, summer and early fall are the seasons I live and reside in, so yes, every day which brings me closer to the new spring, is a good day and a reason to celebrate and to forget about nasty winds and colds. The weather has been extremely pleasant so far, I cannot even believe Christmas is just some 48 hours away. The sun showed her smiley face today and I think squirrels couldn’t understand what was going on. They were running and jumping and didn’t seem to be concerned about freezing in a near future at all.

Christmas cactus

My Christmas cactus was blooming just a few days ago

I love the rush before Christmas; in fact, I love it before any festivity or celebration. Since Canadian celebrations have to be arranged months ahead and even then nobody shows up, preparing some food and decorating our place is the only celebration I have.

Christmas ornaments

Beautiful decorations and lights

Decorating Christmas tree

The greens of the tree have the most attractive color

We used to invite many people, and biggest half couldn’t make it. I tried to invite those few people, who I could consider at least acquaintances, and everybody was busy and nobody could come. After a while I gave this invitation thing up because I understood, it will never be like it was in Latvia. Somebody calls 2 hours before dinner, fine, he or she is invited, or I call and ask if I can join, and they were happy to see me. If I have the tree put up 2 months ago and all gifts wrapped up a month ago, I have no Christmas spirit. I do it like this: I put on Christmas songs, boil something in 5 pots at once, whip cream, butter breads and cut vegetables for salads while meat is roasting in the oven. I run around with wrapping papers and decorations and makeup my face and do hair between finding something lost first and second floor. This is how I love it. Light up candles, as many as we have, put everything on the table and then I can dance a little bit or sing some Latvian or German Christmas song. Now it’s time to go to the table. We used to always go to the church first, but the only Protestant church which I know about is very far away, therefore I can just watch it on TV and say a prayer by myself. Blessings are very important part of Christmas and we should all have them.

Christmas gift wrapping

The gallery room

Beautiful gift wrapping ideas

Gifts are getting wrapped up

Christmas gift wrapping ideas

Paintings are easy to wrap

Decorating for Christmas

I love wrapping up gifts with colorful ribbons and I would usually add at least some small branch or shiny ornament to make my gift shine. Takes very little time, looks excellent.

Latvian Christmas song

Once you are done with the most urgent things, you could listen to one Latvian Christmas song, 2 brothers are singing it. Brothers Ziemeli. It’s title is “White snow has been falling”. The main idea is: if nobody loves you, you can still love somebody. There is always somebody who is freezing without you. They would be thankful for your warm hands.

It’s winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere. Therefore, we will be moving back to light and longer days very soon. What a great reason to be happy!

The Midsummer magic in Latvian style

Midsummer or Summer Solstice is celebrated in quite a few countries, nations and places; however, I don’t know any other place than Latvia where people love so much the Midsummer night which is called „Līgo”. This is practically not translatable; it comes from ancient times and is used after every line of Latvian midsummer folk-songs. The closest interpretation might be “sway” or “swing”, just like plants or trees are swaying in a light wind. There are plenty of folk-songs, and these songs have come to us through very many centuries, they have originated some 1500 years ago and given verbally from generation to generation. No powers, natural disasters or governing rules could make these songs and the Midsummer celebration extinct, even though, many tried to prohibit Latvians to celebrate “Līgo”, especially Germans and Russians, and especially after the WWII during the communist times.

Latvia is such a tiny country, but the spiritual and intellectual side of life is a big deal over there. Latvians are a nation of singers; they were overcoming all troubles and all disasters cheering themselves up with such folk-songs. I will attach a link which shows one adapted “Līgo” song performed by Latvian choirs during the Song Festival which takes place every 4 years.

Magic rituals, superstitions, simply traditions and solstice magic: everything is carried out and present during the night of June 23. It is supposed to be the shortest night, although, we know June 21 or June 22 are the shortest nights.

Ligo My small Midsummer treats

We have special foods to enjoy: special cheese with caraway seeds, beer, special small pies and similar treats.

I managed to make my Midsummer cheese this year, as well. That is definitely my most favorite cheese of all of them. It is difficult to make it using Canadian products because they are not quite the same as in Latvia. However, the taste is excellent, I tried some slices already.

Latvian Midsummer

This night is celebrated outdoors with bonfires, dancing and singing. This year I’m not going to Sidrabene where Canadian Latvians have Midsummer Festival, it is not the same anyway. “Līgo” belongs to Latvia, we can imitate it, we can try, but it still is very different from the original celebration in Latvia.

Midsummer treats: caraway seed cheese

The nice thing is being able to wear a flower wreath: women wear wreaths from any flowers, grasses or leaves, men usually wear large wreaths made of oak leaves.

Fresh midsummer strawberries

Latvians have names’ days and celebrate them even more than birthdays. June 23 is the day when Jānis has his name’s day. Jānis (we say this not with an English “J”, but like in “young”, just with long “a”). Many Latvian men are given the name “Jānis”. It said 58,400 men will celebrate their name’s day this year, meaning, they all have name “Jānis” and wear the big oak leaf wreath. “Jānis” in Latvian mythology was supposed to be the God’s son, who rides around during this night and blesses fields, meadows, forests and homes. He brings fertility, abundance and good luck.

Latvian Midsummer caraway seed cheese

The Midsummer cheese, Midsummer wreath and Midsummer bonfire are all meant to honor the Sun and to celebrate its victory over night. Nights are very short around this time in Latvia, there are only few darker hours between 12 and 3 pm, and afterwards the light returns.

Young and not that young couples are going to look for the blossom of a fern. Ferns according to the Latvian mythology are blossoming only during this night, only in rare places, and not everybody can find or see these blossoms. The folk-song says: all flowers were blossoming; only the fern did not. It was blossoming on the Midsummer night with golden blooms.

Ligo 7

Midsummer is the moment of full blooming when the beauty becomes so obvious that it is impossible not to notice it, when love is so close that it becomes touchable. It is a time of fertility in the nature and among humans. It is a time when the human becomes part of nature again, forgets about civilization, its rules, limitations and restrictions. The Midsummer night is wild in its purest form.

Folk-song adapted to song festival

Just like thousands of years ago, a clear and loud “Līgo!” goes up to the sky, echoes in lakes, rivers, hills, and forests, fields and meadows respond with an echo, too. This is believed to be the most magic night when everything is possible and everything can come true.

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