Why am I proud of being a Latvian?

meitenju profilsAdmitting it or not but we all love when the name of our country pops up on a list with a positive connotation. Suddenly we are all reminded and remember why we are proud of who we are and that’s a good thing, right?? Not always though..

Over last couple of days and article has been shared and shared and shared by the online Latvian community about the fact that Latvian women are among the most beautiful in the world (well, actually the blogger who made the list said they are THE MOST beautiful in the world). And as flattering as it is I find it a shame that I have never seen the same lever of sharing of other good facts about Latvia. So, here are my reasons why I am proud to be a Latvian.

Latvians keep their traditions alive

We have enormous amount of traditions that have kept us together as a nation for centuries, that have let us survive and keep our identities. For example, every year we celebrate Midsummer. A magical experience of everyone making flower crowns, bonfires blaze all over the country, people jump across those fires, sing and have Midsummer cheese and beer.

Obviously, the spectacularity of this is best seen in Latvia, but I love that Latvians keep this tradition alive abroad with perseverance year after year.

Midsummer bonfire. Photo credit: Janitors

Midsummer bonfire. Photo credit: Janitors

Another tradition that always seems a bit exotic to many and is kept alive in Latvia, is a series of obstacles newly weds have to get through before they are considered to be married. Latvian weddings usually take 2 days with series of activities taking places throughout the whole period. The experience for the newly weds might be annoying on some level, but loads of these challenges have deeply rooted meaning. More on Latvian wedding and some other traditions you can find here.

Latvia has the most amazing wilderness nature

Fog in the countryside. Photo credits: zigurdszakis

Fog in the countryside. Photo credits: zigurdszakis

Being a small country with a small amount of people living in it has given Latvia an advantage of having huge spaces of wild nature. For Latvians it’s very calming to be in the nature. Latvians go berry and mushroom picking, our best way to relax is to be in a meadow not far from a lake or river, or to have a walk on (or next to) the frozen sea in the winter.

Latvians have one of the most amazing festival in the world

We have been described as the nation who sings. And dances. I think it comes from very deep within. Sort of a survival technique through different “masters” we’ve had leading us to a “better life” throughout the times.. Singing and dancing is an outlet, it’s our identity.

Even now when we are an independent nation, once in 4 years we continue to honor this part of our identity and have our national song and dance festival. Latvians from all over the world are flying back to take part in it either as dancers/singers or as spectators. In any case, being there will make you shiver from the monumentalism of the moment

Latvians love to make things with their hands

Pottery making is one of the many crafts Latvians are fond of.

Pottery making is one of the many crafts Latvians are fond of.

Craftsmanship in Latvia is something that has been valued throughout the centuries and even though it was “downgraded” during the soviet times, now the time has come again when things made by hand, with love, are highly appreciated.

Below are some links for some items/presents made with love but a trip to Latvia will let you have the best choice possible. Especially if you manage to go to one of the craftsmanship markets that are very popular during the warm months.

Latvians use nature for healing

No, don’t think that we are against the modern medicine. It’s just that in Latvia healing is something that is very close to our hearts. I remember my Grandma teaching me which plant to use to stop bleeding, which plants are the best to dry for teas and which are the poisonous ones.

Chamomile is one of the flowers Latvians would save for their winter tea. Photo credit:  Pere Tubert Juhé

Chamomile is one of the flowers Latvians would save for their winter tea. Photo credit: Pere Tubert Juhé

We pick our berries, plants, flowers, we dry them, pickle them, make them in jams. Whatever you can imagine that associates to you with rural and natural living, Latvians would be doing and loving it. During winter our biggest recipe to fight colds and flue is to make a tea from the plants that have been gathered during the summer. Almost in every household you’ll find plenty of tea supplies to carry one’s family throughout the winter.

Latvians do have fun

There are all kinds of Latvians: serious, fun, easy going, complicated, smart, musical etc but if you’d have to give the general description of the nation, you wouldn’t think of it as the most funny nation in the world. But is that true? See these 2 unusual contests that Latvians are having. Just for fun 🙂

Scything Contest

Wife carrying contest