Latvians abroad set to celebrate Jāņi

While the big Midsummer festival, Jāņi, is an official holiday June 23-24 in Latvia, for Latvians living abroad work, school and other weekday activities in most cases have forced celebrations to be pushed to the weekend.

In Latvia, just about every community will mark the holiday with bonfires, singing, dancing and eating of traditional foods and drinking of beer. Festivities will begin the evening of June 23, known as “Līgo vakars,” and continue until the sun rises on June 24, or “Jāņi.”

Here’s a rundown of many Jāņi celebrations outside of Latvia, with information gathered by Latvians Online and by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The events section of Latvians Online will have further details.

June 23

A few Latvian colonies will mark the holiday on Thursday, June 23.

Belgium: Latvians living and working in Belgium and Luxembourg will celebrate Jāņi southeast of Brussels at La Ferme du Château de Corroy-le-Grand, Chemin du Serrui 4, Corroy-le-Grand. The event is organized by Latvian Ministry of Defense officials working at the NATO defense alliance.

Canada: In Ontario province, the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre, 4 Credit Union Drive, Toronto, is the venue for celebrations beginning at 5 p.m. In Québec province, a Jāņi celebration for pensioners is scheduled at 1 p.m. in the Latvian Center, 3955 Provost, Lachine.

Germany: In Bonn, Jāņi celebrations are planned in Haus Annaberg, Annaberger Str. 400. In the city of Lübeck, festivities are scheduled beginning at 19:00 hours at Lübecker Bogen Club, Vorrader Str., beim Ringstedtenhof.

The Netherlands: Jāņi festivities hosted by the Netherlands Latvian Association “Latvija” begin at 18:00 hours in Duinpark Paasdal, Hogeweg 14, Wijk aan Zee.

United States: Latvians in Maryland, Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area will celebrate Jāņi at the home of silversmith Aleksandrs Pariņš, 13300 Old Indian Head Road, Brandywine, Md. In the Upper Midwest state of Minnesota, Jāņi will be celebrated beginning in the evening in the Latvian House, 2337 Central Ave. N.E., Minneapolis.

June 24

Czech Republic: An informal gathering to celebrate Jāņi is planned at 20:00 hours in the Embassy of Latvia, 3 Hradeshinska Str., Prague.

June 25

Most Jāņi celebrations abroad will begin in the evening, local time, on Saturday, June 25.

Australia: Although Jāņi celebrations have already occurred in Melbourne and Perth, festivities in other communities are set June 25. In Adelaide, two celebrations are planned. The first is at 2 p.m. in the Daugavas Vanagi House, 23 Clark St., Wayville. At the same time, a celebration is due to start at the Latvian Camp Dzintari, Willson Drive, Normanville, with entertainment by the music group Bardas tiesa and the folk dance group Auseklītis. In Brisbane, Jāņi festivities begin at 5 p.m. in the Brisbane Latvian House, 24 Church Ave, Buranda. In Sydney, the celebration starts at 1 p.m. in the Sydney Latvian House, 32 Parnell St., Strathfield.

Canada: Latvians in Canada are taking to three different camps for their Jāni festivities. In Ontario province, festivities are scheduled to start with a 7 p.m. program at Camp Sidrabene, 5100 Appleby Line, Milton West. At Camp Saulaine, RR1, Utopia, Jāņi festivities begin at 6 p.m. following a day of cleanup in preparation for the summer children’s camp. In Québec province, activities at the Tērvete camp, chemin Tervete, Comté Argenteuil, begin with a 1.5-kilometer run scheduled at 14:00 hours followed by Midsummer festivities starting at 17:00 hours.

Germany: The growing Latvian population in Germany will mark Midsummer in several locations. Latvians in Germany and France will celebrate at the Bērzaine center, Leinhaldenweg 28, Freiburg. In the Hamburg area, celebrations begin at about 18:00 hours at Altes Land, Hasselwerder Str. 116, Hamburg.

United Kingdom: One site for Jāņi celebrations will be Mūsmājas, The Hall, Priory Hill, Wolston, Coventry.

United States: Near the southern California community of Santa Clarita, Jāņi will be celebrated beginning at 3 p.m. at White Rock Lake, 10645 Soledad Canyon Road. The event includes a novuss tournament. In Michigan, Jāni celebrations will kick off the summer season at the Latvian Center Gaŗezers, 57732 Lone Tree Road, Three Rivers. Events include a morning golf tournament and a 7 p.m. program featuring the Gaudeamus men’s choir from Latvia and the Dzelmieši folk dance troupe from Chicago, followed by Midsummer festivities. New Jersey’s Priedaine camp, located at 1017 Highway 33 East, Freehold, for many New Jersey and New York City area Latvians will be the site of Jāņi festivities that begin at 4 p.m. In upstate New York, Jāņi celebrations are part of a weekend of cleanup work in preparation for the summer season in the Latvian Lutheran Camp near Tannersville in the Catskill Mountains. In Ohio, the Latvian Welfare Association Daugavas Vanagi in Cleveland is organizing Jāni celebrations that begin at 5 p.m. at Ottawa Point Reserved Picnic Area off Meadows Drive in the Cleveland Metroparks Brecksville Reservation. In Washington state, Midsummer celebrations will be observed at the West Coast Latvian Education Center, 3381 W. Dayton Airport Road, Shelton. In Wisconsin, Jāņi will be marked at Dievsēta, 19264 Bittersweet Ave., Warrens, with wreath-weaving and other preparation during the day before dinner, followed by festivities around a bonfire. Nearby, on the Tupesis family farm south of Tomah, another Jāņi celebration also is planned, with līgotāji from Dievsēta traveling there to join the festivities.

(UPDATED 22 JUNE 2005)

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

2 thoughts on “Latvians abroad set to celebrate Jāņi

  1. Latvians in Vienna, Austria can meet at:

    Krapfenwaldgasse circa 13 zwischen 10 und 15: Tennis platz!

    –Dainis Michelis

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