Līgo (June 23rd) is the main traditional ethnic festival in Latvia. It celebrates summer solstice and is followed by Jāņi (St. John Day) on June 24th. Both are public holidays.

The festival is mostly Pagan in origin. Its traditions are mostly nation related. They include wreath weaving out of grasses (these wreaths are then worn on one’s head or used to decorate one’s cars and homes) and bonfire burning.

Līgo decorated car in Latvia
Many Latvians have their cars decorated in wreathes for Līgo (June 23rd), which is their primary ethnic festival. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Līgo has various Latvian folksongs associated to it, as well as several myths. Among those are that witches come alive on that day and that fern flowers. The Līgo festival has also traditionally some risque activities such as boys intermingling with girls.

In contemporary world, just as in the Pagan times perhaps, these are not really controversial, however in the devout 18th or 19th centuries that would have made Līgo unique.

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