National Holidays

January 1 - New Year's Day.

Festivities to celebrate the New Year begin in the evening of December 31 In recent years, both the President and Prime Minister address the people on national TV. While champagne toasts are common, many Latvian families partake in a variety of traditional rituals to ensure good luck and prosperity in the New Year.

March-April Easter.

In Latvia, the Easter holiday consists of three special days: Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. In addition to the practices of the Christian Church, many Latvians observe older pre-Christian traditions as well to welcome the rebirth of nature and the arrival of spring.

May 1 Labour Day.

While many in the world celebrate this as Labour Day, in Latvia May 1 has an additional meaning. On this date in 1920 the Constitutional Assembly, the first democratically elected Parliament of the Republic of Latvia, convened for its first session to draft and pass the state constitution.

May 4 Restoration Of Independence Of the Republic of Latvia.

On May 4, 1990 pro-independence members of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia (the highest legislative body in then occupied Latvia) passed a Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia. This vote launched a transitional period until full independence was restored in August 1991. This date is now observed as as Latvia’s “second independence day”.

The 2nd Sunday In May Mothers' Day.

Prior to the Second World War in Latvia, this day was devoted to a celebration of the family and its values. Since 1992 Latvia has joined others in the world recognising this as Mother’s Day. Since the mother is the central figure of traditional Latvian families, the essence of this holiday has not changed.

June 23-24 Līgo Day And Jāņi.

The celebration of the summer solstice is Latvia’s oldest and most beloved holiday. While some like to begin this holiday on June 21st, (the longest day of the year), the Latvian Līgo-Day takes place on June 23rd and continues with Jāņi on the following day - June 24th.

Most Latvians leave the cities to gather around ceremonial bonfires in the countryside to engage in a colourful array of ancient rituals. To celebrate the arrival of the summer sun, they gather wild flowers, make oak leaf wreaths and decorate houses, animals and themselves. They also prepare special foods and brew barley beer, while singing and dancing traditional folk songs with the 'līgo' refrain.

November 18 Proclamation Of the Republic of Latvia.

The Republic of Latvia was proclaimed an independent state on this day in 1918 in the building that today houses the National Theatre in Riga. Latvia’s first period of independence lasted until June 17, 1940, when Soviet forces occupied the country. The independence of the Republic of Latvia was restored on August 21, 1991. Many festive events take place through the country on this day, including a nationally televised address to the people by the President of the Republic of Latvia. In recent years this speech is given before large crowds in the square by the Freedom Monument in Riga.

December 24-26 Christmas.

Christmas is another important family celebration for Latvians. Many Latvians attend church services, decorate Christmas trees and exchange gifts on Christmas Eve - December 24. Celebrations continue on Christmas Day and the day after. For many Latvians this time of the year is also associated with pre-Christian traditions and rituals reflected in ancient folk songs and observed in a variety of colourful ways.