Short and Simple – LĪGO!


For the past 8 years for different reasons I am spending my summers away from home – in Bulgaria. It is a beautiful country with as beautiful people but there still is one particular date when I feel the sweet sting of longing for home inside me…somewhere in the region where heart is (or is supposed to be). It is the night from the 23rd to the 24th of June when Latvians celebrate Summer Solstice – the Līgo (Sway) Eve.

Recently I wrote a bit more about Līgo on Carpe Diem Haiku challenge “Carpe Diem Haiku *Summer Solstice*” therefore today I won’t bore you with details of cultural heritage and traditions. I just want to add one thing…yes, it is a special feeling of being together with family and friends somewhere outdoors near meadows, forests, fields and with the gleam of the last embers in bonfires meet the new sunrise. Some call it magical, some – mysterious but for me it is a part of my identity, my home. And I do miss it today. A touch or maybe more…


Carpe Diem Haiku *Summer Solstice*


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
celebrating light

* * *

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Līgo Haibun Special

“LĪĪĪGOOOO!” I shouted from the top of my lungs as we jumped over the fire and I felt the flames reaching the part of my body polite people usually avoid mentioning in public. This was the 5th time and I knew we had many more to go. After all I had lost the bet: how could I have possibly known he would agree to be a part of that nude run across the bridge?! But he did! And even won to be crowned, though I am still not sure if because of coming in the first or for some other quite…um…obvious reasons. So, now, for the rest of the night, I was about to surrender to making the fruits of his fertile imagination ripe. Jumping over the fire was only the beginning. Ah, and the ancient story about searching and finding the only blossoming fern in the Līgo night…it turned out to be true. Surprisingly enough, without any connection to some botanical phenomena…

shortest night of year
fern blossom uncovered
-last glowing ember

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Līgo Haibun Special

Tips Up And Tight Lines!

To tell you the truth, for me fishing is a Latvian thing. As Latvian as choral singing, four month winters and the biggest Summer Solstice celebration in the world, the Līgo. I am sure there are people from different corners of the world who could come up with plenty reasons why fishing belongs to their nation. Yet right here right now allow me to stick to my presumption and tell my story, wandering down memory lane. This story is not about the professional fishermen for whom fishing has been a daily job through generations. It is about the other kind that has much more to do with whenever there’ s the “inner call”  for it. 

As far as I can remember, my grandfather and my father have always loved fishing. You know…that “men thing” where a couple of relatives/friends get together right before the sun comes up on Saturday or Sunday (might be both if the passion for fishing is VERY strong) morning to disappear to some lake or the sea for several hours. And then return happy, relaxed and with whatever they have managed to wangle out of the water. Spring, summer, autumn, also winter – the weather never really mattered as long as the  purpose was clear. All those fishing rods, hooks, sinkers, hand tying “flies” and preparing baits. The rubber hip boots. Fishermen stories, that touch of specific humour with the saltiness of the water and sharpness of the wind. Slightly amusing when it got to the almost puerile but harmless boasting which was good for the spirit. 

I can’ t say I have “inherited” the gene of loving this spare-time activity (somehow I am a bit reluctant to call it  “just a hobby” though many might actually not see the difference and I don’ t blame them) but my ancestors have no reason to worry – it’ s covered by my brother. I have to admit I was lucky enough to often be a part of those weekend fishing trips, therefore even today I would be able to put a bait on a hook and cast it in the water. With the same grace and elegance of playing the piano, by the way. My father and his friends remember I did have much patience for my age, was a quick learner and, most importantly, never broke any of the fishing rods entrusted to me. You can always find something to do out in nature, especially being a child with quite a bit of imagination and meeting such a variety of people around. And overall it was precious time spent together with my father and grandfather. Today I would call it very Zen, too.

One of my father’ s most colourful fishing memories is when once being out at a lake enjoying scenery, silence and fishing, he suddenly heard the USSR anthem sang in full voice from the opposite shore. Imagine his surprise when a bit later he found out it was his own daughter, demonstrating her singing abilities after being asked “And what do you sing in choir these days?” by some other people fishing nearby. “Other people” turned out to be the Communist party secretary from the capital with his comrades from Moscow. A bit of an odd situation to be in, especially for my father, a man with his opinions very far from the Communist ones, in the middle of the 1980’ s in Soviet Latvia. My grandfather, who used to be a true believer (sorry, I am not a big fan of the word “patriot”) in the independence of Latvia (but unfortunately passed away few years before it was restored in 1991) found it very amusing to say the least, knowing there were completely different kinds of songs in my “repertoire” taught by him that might have raised a couple of questions for my parents if not gotten them into serious trouble.

The philosophy behind the fishing process…yes – is the pursuit of an idea… Either  fly fishing in a stream, ice fishing on a frozen lake for hours or casting nets in the sea. It is never about what you catch but what catches you, isn’ t it? “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”/J.Buchan/

P.S: Some videos you might enjoy:

The Old Man And The Sea

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Peculiarities Of The National Fishing (Russian: Особенности Hациональной Pыбалки)

A River Runs Through It

Līgo Circle of Appreciation

The yearly Līgo celebration happens every summer solstice in Latvia.
At this time we adorn our heads with Līgos of flowers, oak leaves,
grasses and plants. We join circles around bonfires and celebrate life,
and our appreciation of each other.

Here’s our
Līgo Circle of Appreciation
among fellow bloggers.

For duration of 22 days, starting on 1st October 2012, we will be inviting
2 bloggers per day
to join the Līgo Circle of Appreciation.

PLEASE NOTE: This is an Appreciation, NOT an Award.

To fully participate in the Līgo Circle of Appreciation:
* Complete this sentence about blogging: ”A great blog is…
* Refer back to the blogger who invited you
* Invite 2 bloggers to join the Līgo Circle of Appreciation on a post

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Read more:

The Circle Begins:
1st October 2012 – a festival of colours, views & viewpoints – art in wordsmithery

2nd October 2012 – a passion for poetry and metallurgy – a myriad of wonderful people from history

3rd October 2012 – a menu of dreams, tastes and cultures – poetry written with the tip of a knife

4th October 2012– from her heart to our stomachs; beautiful photos, restaurants and more… – a heart of gold, wiccan mind and constant eye on the penal system

5th October 2012 – love, smiles and a healthy look at life through stories and photos – a colourful palette of moments and people around

6th October 2012 – thoughts & impressions – poetry of emotion

7th October 2012 – colours, tastes, senses and things that matter – a waterfall of positivity through stories and photos

8th October 2012 – travels, explorings and photos that speak louder than words – creating, sharing and inspiring in her special way

9th October 2012 – stories of everyday people all around the world – photos that don’ t leave you indifferent

10th October 2012 – a blog of a lifetime of experiences and still going strong – a blog that shoots from the hip – but also finds the target every time

11th October 2012 – Celtic Catwoman. Very well-researched writing from the heart – visual treasures of travel

12th October 2012 – a surreal artist with far-reaching words to say – fiesta of dance, words, emotions and inspiration

13th October 2012 – a beauty of colours and energy from a cottage in Cornwall – bursts of words, lightning and music

14th October 2012 – a positive thinking inspiration – a blog of smiles, colours and warmth

15th October 2012 – a blog of images and colours in action – a writer from the heart, who gives all

16th October 2012 – a nomad exploring beauty of the world – a talented writer with a natural gift to capture reader’ s attention

17th October 2012 – the heart, and soul of the adventurer – stories that hit between shoulder blades

18th October 2012 – a blogger whose road tok her homeward bound, and many places in-between – a journey of literature and nature

19th October 2012 – one of the most wonderful writers on WordPress + nice photography – images and words warm to the soul

20th October 2012 – a progression of captivating short stories – a softly-spoken blog from the heart

21st October 2012 – a personal blog of a heart’s content – a blog recommendd to me by yepirate, and a delightful blog from an exotic land

22nd October 2012 – images and words with real meaning – moments that matter through photos and stories