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Latvian life traditions. Baptism. Traditional baptism (called “krustabas” in Latvian) is celebrated 9 days after the birth of the child Main role of this celebration belongs to the godparents, main task - find a name for the child

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  • Traditional baptism (called “krustabas” in Latvian) is celebrated 9 days after the birth of the child
  • Main role of this celebration belongs to the godparents, main task - find a name for the child
  • Name is chosen by observing the nature at the time of birth, the child’s behavior and other signs
  • It is believed that the child will be similar to his godparents in character
  • It is also believed that the godparents’ behavior can affect the child’s life
  • Boys usually had 2 godfathers and 1 godmother, girls - 1 godfather and 2 godmothers
baptism day one
Baptism - day one
  • First meal - only “white” food (milk, cheese, white bread), symbolizes bright future
  • After, godparents take the child and go “name looking” at the “church of Māra”
  • At the church of Māra, the family decides which godparent will be the one to bring the child to the cross and which godparent’s chosen name will be given to the child
  • Name giving and vow making at the cross
baptism day one4
Baptism - day one
  • After the ceremony, the family brings the child back to his parents while singing, and later reveals his name
  • Before or during the main meal, the family members ask each other out on a traditional dance called “pādes dīdīšana”, during which they hold the child in their hands and make wishes for him
baptism day two
Baptism - day two
  • Main event - cradle making
  • Godfather makes the cradle, godmother sets it up and decorates it
  • When the cradle is ready, it is put at a sunny place next to a window
  • First, a rock is put in the cradle to fool the envious people and divert the negative from the child
  • When the child is in the cradle, the gifting begins
baptism day two1
Baptism - day two
  • Godfather gifts money
  • Godmother gifts clothing
  • After them, the rest of the family gives gifts while singing
  • When the ceremony comes to a close, the godparents sing the child a lullaby and the guests leave
  • The traditional Latvian lullaby “Aijā, žūžū” is recognised as one of the most beautiful in the world
name day
Name day
  • Most Latvian names are given a day to celebrate; those not in the list celebrate on February 29 or May 22
  • Traditional Latvian calendars have up to 4 names each day, 1000 in a year
  • Extended and church calendars can have up to 5000 names a year
  • No traditional ceremony
  • The person celebrating brings snacks to work/school and receives small presents
  • During spring, both men and women look for their match
  • When a match is found, a process called “derības” is organised
  • “Derības” could only be arranged on lucky days - Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday, mostly Thursday - and only during full moon to symbolise a full life for the couple
  • “Derības” is followed by a proposal and a promise to be together for life
  • Weddings are traditionally organised during autumn
  • The groom goes to bride’s home together with his best man and best man’s wife
  • The bride is dressed by many women from her family; they dress her up slowly and in many layers of clothing with a finishing touch - wreath
  • On road to the groom’s home, the bride is accompanied by two people; the rest of her family follows, symbolizing a chase after the bride in an attempt to get her back, while the two people who came together with the bride lay obstacles in their path
  • The procession is stopped by people living along the road, they don’t let the bride pass until a fee is paid
  • The whole ride is full of noises and songs so that everybody far and wide can hear
  • Upon arrival at the groom’s home, the procession is greeted by the groom’s father with beer
  • Bride drinks first, then everybody else
  • Bride gives the groom’s father a pair of gloves, then the gates are opened and everybody comes inside the yard
  • The bride and the groom write some of their sins they’d like to get rid of on paper, as well as a letter to the other person which can only be read a year after getting married
  • After, they go to a holy place in nature (usually great oak trees or giant boulders), where they burn the sins and the wedding ritual is held
  • After the wedding ceremony, everybody goes back to the groom’s house
  • The bride’s wreath is changed for a wife’s crown (this is called “mičošana”, the wife’s crown is called “mice”) and the meal begins
  • After the meal, the newlyweds go to bed, which the guests have “enhanced” with various items to affect the son’s or daughter’s birth
  • The bride gives presents to the groom’s family
  • The groom’s mother receives a white woolen shawl, father and brothers get shirts, gloves and socks, sisters receive shawls, belts, garters
  • The whole process ends the next Sunday after wedding, when the newlyweds go to visit the bride’s family, where the bride says goodbye to everybody once more
  • Traditional latvian name: “bedības”
  • Traditional funeral food - peas and beans
  • The moment the person dies, all windows and doors are opened so that the soul can go to God unhindered
  • Only invited guests attend, mostly family
  • Symbolic tree for funerals - spruce
funeral day one
Funeral - day one
  • The first day is called “vāķēšana”; it starts in the evening and lasts all night
  • Main events: meal, candle burning (to “light the way”), talking about the deceased
  • The deceased was traditionally dressed in white, with white sheets on the bed and white padding in the coffin
  • Also traditional was putting some items in the coffin, like the favorite things of the deceased, perhaps gloves and socks
funeral day two
Funeral - day two
  • The second day is called “izvadīšana”, meaning to lead the deceased out, to God
  • Usually starts early in the morning, because it is believed that the gates of Heaven are open until noon
  • Everybody tries to fulfill the deceased person’s last wishes
  • Special care is taken to choose horses and decorate them; white horses are avoided because they can be seen from afar, which might distract the soul on its way to Heaven
funeral day two1
Funeral - day two
  • When the coffin is brought to the grave, a person called “vīkšējs” gives a speech, which traditionally contains verses related to passing away
  • During the speech, the coffin is put in the grave
  • Everybody, starting from the closest relatives, drops 3 handfuls of sand on the coffin
  • The grave is filled up with a sand mound on top, in which a cross is engraved, and a gravestone is placed on the head side of the mound
  • Mourners return home singing, have a meal, dance, even play games
  • If the deceased wasn’t married, the ceremony symbolizes wedding
funeral related
Funeral - related
  • “Mourning day”, also called the “candle evening” - celebrated one week before the First Sunday of Advent
  • “Grave festival” - celebrated on weekends in the period between June and September, exact date depends on the graveyard.Graves are tidied up, flowers and candles replaced, fresh sand is put on the grave mounds.Friends and relatives come to the graves of the deceased and have a short meal while remembering them