June 23, 2012
A new book featuring Jāņi traditions titled 3x9 Jāņi has just been published in Rīga. The unique feature in this publication is the option of scanning the QR codes of Jāņi songs in the book with your smartphone to hear the melodies. Now you can access those harder-to-remember melodies anywhere - by the Jāņi bonfire, out in the meadow, in the sauna - wherever your heart desires.
If you’re celebrating somewhere with an internet connection the other choice is to find them on the book’s You Tube link. It seems there would now be no excuse for not knowing the melodies of those hundreds of songs with the refrain “līgo”.
The author, Ērika Māldere, who is a member of the folklore group Savieši (and formerly a member of the renowned group Skandenieki) has involved the traditional Latvian group in recording the songs. The graphics in the book are those of the author herself, a professional graphic designer. 3x9 Jāņi is full of tips on how to mark this ancient summer solstice celebration the traditional way - from the preparation side to the rituals that are a part of the celebrations on this night, the rotaļas (dancing games) and songs that are an integral part of this symbolic worshipping of the sun.
Daina Gross is editor of Latvians Online. An Australian-Latvian she is also Chair of the Education Board of the World Federation of Free Latvians and the translator into English of various books on industrial history in Latvia.