HOW THE FRIENDS OF THE LATVIAN CENTRE CELEBRATED “JĀŅI”
Did you pick “Jāņi” grasses and wildflowers? Did you make wreaths this year?… or not. Did you make “Jāņi” cheese? Did you enjoy a tasty “Jāņi” feast?… or not. Did you drink beer, sing “Līgo” songs, or dance?… or not. Maybe you were able to have a campfire and try to jump over it?… or maybe not. Maybe you were lucky enough to be able to get together with some friends or family in person to celebrate “Jāņi” this year, or maybe only to chat by phone or meet virtually on a digital platform?…or not. Or maybe this year you decided to not celebrate “Jāņi” at all? Maybe you spent time listening to how melodious the birds were singing and how beautiful the flowers smelled – thoroughly enjoying the peace?…or maybe not.
We know that every one of us is different with different characteristics, interests and needs. We know, as well, that each one of us has different living conditions, whether it be due to our employment status, health or how close or far away we are from our friends and family. We know that there are those of us who are very social and gain energy by spending time together with others. Those individuals may have decided this year, that despite the difficulties with imposed restrictions, Latvian society’s largest holiday needed to be celebrated. They may have organized celebrations in the own homes with only their closest friends or family, or larger gatherings while maintaining required physical distancing. They may also have participated in a “Zoom” or other digital platform where virtually they met with others to celebrate “Jāņi” and sing “Līgo” songs.
We know, that there are others who like solitude better and whose energy is renewed when at peace. Those individuals maybe decided this year to take advantage of the chance to not celebrate “Jāņi” with others and instead to spend the time quietly on their own or with only those closest to them. There are those for whom it is important to get dressed up in their ethnic costumes and to make sure that the celebrations are full of ancient “Jāņi” traditions and lots of singing and there are those who only require that there is beer. There are those who regretted not being able to celebrate Easter with their family this year and therefore decided to combine some Easter traditions with “Jāņi” traditions. Because of the hot and humid weather, instead of throwing and catching boiled colored eggs, they threw and “caught” water balloons. Instead of competing to see whose egg rolls further or whose wreath lands on the highest branches of a tree, the new activity was to see whose wreath rolls further. Maybe a new “Jāņi” tradition has been created?
We know that there are individuals who have much more free time on their hands and therefore have been looking for ways to keep themselves busy. Those who decided to clean and organize to pass the time for sure had their homes and gardens clean and ready for the celebrations. Those who decided to learn how to bake bread, “Pīrāgi” and other goodies most definitely enjoyed a scrumptious “Jāņi” feast. We know that many also made “Jāņi” cheese, including some that tried making it for the first time and many enjoyed the “Jāņi” cheese made by the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre.
Unfortunately, we also know that there were people who wanted to celebrate with others, but couldn’t. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, for health reasons, or due to lack of technical skills or the desire to try to meet with others virtually, many unfortunately could not meet with their friends or family this year as they would have liked. As well, there are many in our society that only participate in “Jāņi” celebrations or other celebrations when there are organized events, such as those that are organized regularly by Saulaine, Sidrabene, Tērvete or the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre. Therefore, we know and understand that many are especially having a difficult time with events, celebrations, courses, dance and choir practices, etc. being cancelled due to COVID-19.
No matter where or how we celebrated or did not celebrate “Jāņi” this year, no matter our personalities, interests and needs, the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre (LCCC) is waiting for us all – whether physically when it will be safe again for events to be held, or by visiting the Letts shop online. Our support and help is also required so the LCCC can continue to be a place where we Latvians and our friends can gather, learn, enjoy and celebrate “Jāņi” and other important events. Celebrating “Jāņi” in small groups, virtually or on our own in peace is acceptable and understandable this year, but lets plan to return to celebrating this huge Latvian holiday next year together in a large gathering at the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre. Hopefully, we will be able to meet sooner, therefore lets all stay safe and well!
Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre board of directors