Riga 2014 Saulgriezi – Mezaparka

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Decided to spend mid summer solstice immersing my self in some Latvian cultural entertainment. Again, as at all Latvian events, lots and food, beer, singing and dancing. Now before anyone takes offence I’m actually paying some compliments here. Despite copious amounts of alcohol being consumed there was a wonderful atmosphere in Mezaparka on Saturday, This is in stark contrast to when a load  Englishmen get together and have a few drinks. I believe the Freedom Monument in Riga has been the  subject of visits by intoxicated Englishmen on stag party weekends, so I think my Latvian readers. Will know what I’m talking about. The main attraction didn’t start until 10.00pm yet people had been arriving from mid-day. Not sure what state they were in when the main entertainment started.

The Latvians organisers really do know how to put on a spectacle, and considering the performers came from all corners of Latvia what they managed to achieve was nothing short of miraculous. It was basically a night of song and dance telling the story of Jani and Liga with a few witches thrown in for good luck. I’m not sure if it was intended by the producers but there was a lot of sexual imagery taking place. Straight from the start your have a very attractive young girl dancing around the haystacks. After a minute or so a handsome young man appears riding a huge stallion. Now if there isn’t sexual innuendo there, then I’ll eat my hat. You only have to look at the photographs I took and you will see what I mean. Anyway it was a great spectacle and congratulations to everyone involved.

If you want to see the photos I took click here to see them. If you were a performer and you see one of yourself feel free to use it as long as it is not for commercial uses

This entry was posted in Latvia, Latvian music, Riga and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Riga 2014 Saulgriezi – Mezaparka

  1. Spock says:

    Although you have been here a relatively short time, you “may” have noticed that Latvia is blessed with more than its fair share of beautiful women. (not just talking beautiful the way all women are beautiful either, I mean HOT!) As your your photos from Mežaparks clearly show, national folk costumes, for some reason, seem to accentuate and exaggerate this even further!

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  2. monta says:

    Andrew I am sorry but I cant see any worse than UK tv channel 18 where all day dance and sing/strip popular singers :)) of course they might not be as beautiful because they all pupped up and corrected at hospitals….
    we latvian’s celebrate JANI with lots of drink/food/looking for other half :)) and ideally it should end with sex in hey :)) then its means that whole celebration has been celebrated properly and by the rules :))

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  3. Ilze says:

    Looks great!
    As to that sex thing – I think, it’s quite a modern notion. From what I’ve read in my childhood – in folk fairy tales, finding a fern blossom was a big luck. If one succeeded, he or she possessed the power of understanding the language of all beasts and birds or, depending on the variation of the tale, acquired a general wisdom that woul help in getting rich. One strict rule was to go and look for the fern in solitude and tell noone of what you’ve found. Otherwise, the spell would break and all powers get lost. So no hot Janis or Liga should accompany you. Of course, on a warm summer night some might want to look for some other kind of “blossom”. Why not? 😉 But the idea that midsummer is all about sex is some kind of neo-romaticism of the 20th century.

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    • Kaija says:

      I must correct you there. It most certainly is not something that was invented in the 20th century. Jāņi is a celebration of fertility among other things, just like other traditional festivities. Of course, the mythical fern flower is a thing found in many fairy tales for children, but that does not mean that the ‘adult’ version is invented just now. Besides, old Latvians were, if I may say so, less prudish than many seem to be now and the Līgo night was one to enjoy yourselves. Again, celebration of all things fertility.
      And as the night is the shortest night and you are NOT allowed to sleep, “looking for the fern flower” is kind of a good excuse to get lost and not sleep… 🙂 “Tā nekāda kauna lieta, / Jaunu ļaužu mīlestība.”
      Dainas teach you that if you go to sleep during this night (well, the real one, usually in 21st or 22nd) you not only will have your fields ruined, you also wont be able to find a spouse — however, if you dont, you will have a wedding the following autumn. Now connect those with the ones that say you should go dive in the fern fields in the night celebrating fertility and tell me that doesnt imply finding your future husband/wife at that night. Bare in mind, the not sleeping is really only required of YOUNG people, old ones and children are excused.

      Seems far stretched when reading bits and pieces from a random person on internet like this, but in context it makes more sense than my writing abilities can show. Point is, a symbol can have more than one meaning and explanation, and traditions connected to it.

      Viena pati Jāņa zāle,
      Brīžam stīva, brīžam mīksta:
      Kad uz lietu, tad tā stīva,
      Kad uz sausu, tad tā mīksta.

      Cheers!

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  4. Ilze says:

    We have quite a selection of nerātnās dainas, which would be naughty, mischievous or prankish folk songs. They are not rude, they are of erotic content and were mostly sang at weddings to tease people or, I suppose, young men might have recited or sung them when on night-watch. They all are about sexual intercourse but most of the time words describing the intercourse are replaced by other neutral words and someone who’s not a Latvian won’t even understand what the song is really about. 😉

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    • aedoxsey says:

      I’ll have to get Inta to translate for me. Thankyou

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      • Imants says:

        The folk song, mentioned by Kaija, translated loosely:

        There’s only one Jānis’ flower
        Which can be sometimes stiff, sometimes soft.
        When it rains (it’s wet) then it’s stiff,
        When it’s dry then it’s soft.

        And what do you think the carrot and two onions symbolize in this picture 🙂
        englishman-in-latvia.com/riga-2014-saulgriezi-mezaparka/#jp-carousel-371

        Fertility is an important aspect of summer solstice celebration. Glad you liked your first experience of this day/night.

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      • aedoxsey says:

        I loved it. Thanks for the translation

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  5. Latvian(ish) in England says:

    Speaking of sexual innuendos – read some of the Latvian rymes (Dainas) or even nursery rymes – more explicit then brothers Grimms’ tales. 🙂

    But don’t expect a Bukowski-style descriptive language. Everything is to be read between the lines.

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