Monday, June 26, 2017

Reflections on another Jāņi...

Jāņi – the annual Latvian summer solstice celebration. The location and līgotāji may vary, but the basic tenets remain:

Travel. Luckily this year it was a just a short ride across town, no need to cross state lines...

Gracious hosts. Duties include grilling, supplying white oak branches & cassette players for Cūkas driķos folk dance music for the inevitable dance party, and providing a roof under which to wait out the rain.

Which brings me to rain. Līst kā pa Jāņiem! Bonus points if it clears up in time for the bonfire.

A Jāņi feast including Jāņu siers, šašliki, pīrāgi and kliņģeris. When guests get ambitious, siļķe kažokā and self-pickled skābie gurķi might make an appearance.

Wreath making. Wreath wearing. Wreath photo shots. The flower crowns are a big part of the festivities, and the gathering of materials and making of the wreaths often lasts all day.

Fire. Jumping over the fire. Throwing previous year’s wreaths into the fire. Singing by the fire. Admiring the fire. The fire is essential.

Singing. Dancing. Singing while dancing. Dancing while singing. Please tell me you didn’t leave before the dancing and singing commenced…

Glow sticks. Ok, this one’s optional. But trust me, it’s a favorite.

I’ve written plenty about the history, folklore, symbolism and traditions of this holiday of fertility and renewal, but each year brings new memories and new friends. We’ve celebrated across the globe, from Latvia to France, from Michigan to North Carolina. Jāņi is arguably the biggest Latvian holiday of the year, and on this holiday celebrating the sun we recharge our Latvian batteries… this year with perfect timing in preparation for the Baltimore Dziesmu Svētki: Ceļā uz Latvijas simtgadi! Stay tuned to this space for a journey to this first Latvian Song & Dance festival on the east coast since 1978… daily updates on Instagram!

1 comment:

  1. How special... I've learned so much about the Latvian culture since knowing you.... I always enjoy reading about your history/traditions/culture...

    The wreaths are neat ---but jumping over the fire, WELL---think I'd leave that to the younger ones.... ha

    Thanks for sharing.



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