The stork is an important bird in Latvian folklore, bringing health and wealth to homes with its presence. Having a stork’s nest in one’s homestead brings luck and supposedly even protects buildings from fire, and just the sight of a stork sitting on your roof means there will be good fortune in the coming year. That same stork bill-clattering (that is making a knocking sound by rapidly opening and closing its beak) on the roof means a girl will be getting married that fall. And here I have to add that I never thought I would be googling “what does the stork say?”...
But by far the most common association is between storks and babies. If a stork is seen sitting on your roof you’ll soon have a christening in your home, and if one lands on your roof or flies over the house, a child will be born. Storks have been associated with babies and family for centuries: in Greek mythology they were associated with stealing babies, in Egyptian mythology the soul of a person was represented by a stork, and in Norse mythology the stork represented family values and commitment to one another. Storks can also be a symbol of fidelity and monogamous marriage because storks are believed to mate for life; in reality that's not quite the case, but they do often return to the same nests every year and usually will mate with the same partner.
The link between storks and newborns is believed to have started in Germany, but the explanation could account for the roots of stork folklore in Latvia as well. White storks are migratory birds that fly south in the fall not too long after Jāņi, the midsummer celebration of summer solstice and fertility. Nine months later they return to Europe to nest, and around this time the babies conceived during the Midsummer’s Eve festivities would be born. Obviously the stork brought the baby! (The story could possibly have spread as an attempt to put off answering curious children’s questions for a few more years?)
And so it came about that a stork came to visit us… after Vilis was born. We arrived home to find an eight foot stork announcing his arrival to the world, and the new art in the yard proved a conversation piece for all the neighbors throughout the week. Until Roberts revealed the mastermind behind the gift I suspected several family members (who will not be named) based on the perfect spelling of his middle name Mārtiņš - complete with Latvian long marks, but finally Roberts revealed the storkers' identities. Thanks to our friends for the excellent surprise from Storks and Flamingos! Those of you in the Upstate looking for a baby announcement or birthday surprise for your yard, this is the way to go. In addition to the stork option they also have flamingos to celebrate birthdays, graduations or other occasions. For more information visit www.storksandflamingos.com, and you can like their facebook page here.