Līgo (Sway) – the summer solstice is one of favourite Latvian holidays, celebrating the shortest night and longest day of a year. It is held in the night from the 23rd to the 24th of June and usually spent in the countryside. The way Līgo is celebrated has much to do with pagan traditions but the most important thing is togetherness and being on the same “wavelength” with nature.
Līgo is thought to be the time when the forces of nature are at their most powerful, and the boundaries between the physical and spiritual worlds are thinnest. Just like ages ago, people still decorate their houses with rowan, oak and birch branches in order to protect themselves from evil. Women wear wreaths made from meadow flowers as well as gather different herbs. Another important detail is fire that must be kept from sunset till sunrise. There are various types of bonfires all around the country that night, which traditionally people jump over to ensure prosperity and fertility.
A well-known part of this celebration is searching for the mythical fern flower, though some suggest that the fern flower is a symbol of secret knowledge; today it is almost always synonymous with having sexual relationships. Young couples traditionally search for the flower and many believe there is an increase in births nine months later.
Traditional food during Līgo is a special type of cheese with cumin seeds, made out of curd, and the traditional drink is beer.
* * *
last embers of bonfire
shortest night meets longest day
* * *