Marking 100 Years of Latvian Independence

Latvian Song and Dance Festival (Screen shot via video linked in Bklyner)

On Nov. 18, the Baltic country of Latvia in northern Europe celebrated its 100th anniversary of independence. Last Friday, Bklyner’s Liena Zagare introduced readers to her native country.

There are only about 8,000 Latvians in the city of NY overall, and the social life in Brooklyn fell largely apart with the sale of the Latvian House in Park Slope. But there are plenty of Centennial events this year in the city, and Niagara Falls will turn red and white to celebrate [Nov. 17].

Latvia is a small country, about the size of West Virginia, in the North of Europe – one of the three Baltic States, tucked in between Estonia to the north, and Lithuania to the south, Belarus and Russia to the east. It is part of the European Union, NATO and has a long and complicated relationship with Russia. It is about 50% covered by forests.

Latvian is the national language, but most folks speak Russian as well as English and often another language. Latvian is not at all like Russian, and only really similar to Lithuanian. Only about a million people speak it, so I keep telling the kids it’s like a secret code. They say it is not easy.

Then there’s the berry and mushroom picking, a festival with 50,000 performers, the significance of 1989 and of course, the food – smoked bacon, pickled mushrooms and honey cake to name a few dishes. Read about all this and find out which store “stocks all you need to throw a proper feast” over at Bklyner.

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