Latvia

Established: 1990

Ethnicities

Latvia is a very multi-ethnic country. Because of WW2, the Russians, Jews, and Poles become large minority groups. However, after WW2, many Jews left but Russians continued to immigrate. In addition, there was also an influx of immigrants from Ukraine and Belarus. Due to this large influx, Latvians were on the brink of becoming a minority, especially when one considers that they accounted for 52% of the population but now, they account for 62% of the population. On the other hand, Russians account for 27%, Belorussians account for 3%, Ukrainians as well as Poles account for 2%, and Lithuanians account for 1%, As a result, the remainder is made up of Jews, Gypsies, Germans, and Estonians. However, it is surprising that even though Latvians account for the majority, they still still constitute a minority in some cities such as Daugavpils and Rezekne. In addition, it is interesting to note that they are even a minority in the capital city of Riga.

Language

Within Latvia, the primarily language is Latvian, which is an Indo-European language that belongs to the Baltic family. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that it is one of the two surviving Baltic languages. Because it is the primary language, it is spoken by 80% of the population. Moving on, one can observe that this language is split into three dialects; the Livonian dialect, the Middle dialect, and the High Latvian dialect. Due to the constitution, Latvia makes it so that Latvian, Latgalian, and Livonian are the only official languages. As a result, every other language is made into a minority language. Because of this, Russian, which is the first language for a third of the people, is seen as a minority language. Despite this massive minority, the government is trying to replace Russian as the language of instruction for Latvian. In addition, English, German, Belorussian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Polish, and Romania are also seen as minority languages. However, this is quite appalling since English is used in both tourism and business.

Popular Foods

Latvian's tend to eat three meals a day. However, there food consists of agricultural products and meat. Because of it's location, fish is also quite popular within the country. Within Latvia, there is a bounty of milk products. As a result, one can find cottage cheese, sour cream, and sour milk. Despite this, there are many traditional foods such as jani cheese and curd snack. Due to the abundance of potatoes, cabbage, onions, and milk, there is many types of soups and salads within the country. Owing the countries amplitude in wheat and barley, there is many types of bread such as pīrādziņi, skandrausis, piragi, and the national staple which is rupjmaize. In addition, there are many traditional deserts, such as maizes zupa and kiselis. Because of it's history as a part of the soviet union, the history has a huge culture of drinking with beers such as cenu, aldaris, uzavas, bauskas tumsais, gaisais, and the national staple which is black balsam.

Culture of Latvia

Within Latvia, the culture combines ethical heritage with the countries' historical events. However, this heritage is divided into several regions yet it also tied together. Within Latvia, there is a lot of traditional folklore, specifically folk stories and folk songs which age back over thousands of year. Unsurprisingly, most of the houses within Latvia are made out of log houses. But it is important to note that there is a split within the country for the west is more rural since single farms are more popular while the east is more urban since houses are predominant. Within the country, literature is split into four periods; the early literature, the literature of the independent country, the literature of the soviet rule, and modern literature. Within the country, there is an abundance of music. To begin, there are folk songs about native mythology, which are split into dainas. As a result of these folk songs, there are many traditional instruments, but the most important one is the kokle. In addition, there is a lot of respect for choir traditions. Unsurprisingly, this has made Latvia into the home for the Latvian Song and Dance Festival. During the soviet era, there was the re-emergence of music, because rock music and folk songs allowed the people to rebel against the soviet authorities. After independence, the scene has been dominated by pop music and alternative rock. Within the country, there is also many folk dances, which depict day-to-day life as well as the general culture. However, it is interesting to note that all of these dances require partners. Because of development over time, these traditions have been formalized. Despite this formalization, these customs continue to persist, because new generations are able to combine old traditions with artistic creativity and modernity.

Important Holidays

January 1st or New Year's Day - Celebrates the first day of the Gregorian calendar

Friday before Easter or Good Friday - Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus

Easter Sunday - Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus

Monday after Easter or Easter Monday - Day of secular celebration

May 1st or Labor Day - Worldwide holiday which celebrates the achievement of workers

  • Additionally, it is the day that national assembly convened after the first independence

May 4th or Restoration of Independence Day - Date of Latvia's second and current independence

  • Proclaimed second independence in 1990

Second Sunday of May or Mother's Day - Celebrates the accomplishment of one's mother

June 24th or Midsummer - Designated as the feast day of St John, the Baptist

  • Celebrations offer begin a June 23rd, a day early
  • One of the few saint's days which commemorates the birthday of the saint

Second Sunday of September or Father's Day - Celebrates the accomplishment of one's father

  • Not a public holiday because it is new to the country

November 18th or Republic Day - Celebrates the first independence of Latvia

  • Proclaimed first independence in November 18th

December 25th or Christmas Day - Commemorates the birth of Jesus

  • Celebrations offer begin a November 24rd, a day early

December 26th or Boxing Day - Commemorates Saint Stephen, the first martyr

  • Employees receive physical and nonphysical " gifts" from employers.