The Christian celebration of Easter—Lieldienas, in Latvian—is almost here. For many Latvians around the world, it will mean early morning church services, followed by a feast with family and friends. Among the food items sure to be found on the table will be eggs colored with onion skins.
For those who follow the Latvian folk religion dievturība, the marking of the first day of spring on the vernal equinox (saulgrieži) is already complete. The dievturi no doubt got up before sunrise to wash their faces with the cold water from a nearby stream. Then, after greeting the dawn with song, they, too, participated in a feast.
If you’d like a bit more information about how Latvians celebrate Easter, we’ve searched the Web to find a few sites that might be useful.
In its series of postage stamps commemmorating traditional Latvian folk costumes and celebrations, the Latvian Post Office in 1997 issued a 10-santīmi stamp and a 1-lat souvenir sheet depicting the costumes of western Vidzeme and the Latvian Easter tradition of swinging in a swing. EN
Kristi Salve’s article from the June 1996 issue of Folklore contains quite a bit of information about how the Livonian people—who still are found in small numbers in Latvia and Estonia—would traditionally celebrate the Easter season, particularly because Easter for the sea-faring Livs also marked the beginning of the fishing season. The page is part of the Estonian Folklore Web site. EN
A site about Latvian folklore, part of Latvijas Izglītības informatizācijas sistāma, includes background on Easter traditions. LV
A 1993 article about Latvian Easter traditions, part of a series from Dienvidkalifornijas latviešu informācijas biļetens. LV
The University of Latvia’s Artificial Intelligence laboratory’s online collection of folk song texts, or dainas, includes a section on Lieldienas. LV
A 1997 Latvian postal souvenir sheet depicts a traditional Easter celebration and highlights the folk costumes of Vidzeme.
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