Latvian Līgo! ~ Nudity, Fertility, Lucky Jāņi and Morning Dew

Despite the best enticing efforts of my Light from Latvia, I have become reticent to attend one of the initially most appealing of world festivities. There are a few, scattered here and there on this globe that we should all see once, or twice: The Rio carnival in Brazil, Hogmanay in Edinburgh, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Novruz in Tehran, the Octoberfest in Munich, San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain, with the running of the bulls, Dia de los Muertos in Mexico City, the Holi festival in Mumbai, Festival of the Sun, Lima, Peru,  St Patrick’s in Dublin, the water festival in Bangkok, to say nothing about the quite intriguing penis festival of Kawasaki, Japan, and therein lies my worry:

- she did try to tempt me with tales of young maidens running through meadows nude to paint their nakedness with morning dew as part of the Līgo!, the Latvian Summer Solstice celebration, lasting 3 days long, {from 23rd June to 25 June} and as careful bait added that men called Jāņi (Iain is my 2nd name, a Scottish ‘Jāņi’) received special treatment on that day, getting to wear a thick crown of oak leaves and receiving particular attention, during this festival of fertility, from Latvia’s nubile finest.

a ”Jāņi” and nubile bystander

So basically I was imagening this in the build-up to 23rd-25th June:

Collecting fresh morning dew

But, when  went to Latvian websites to search more about the Latvian Līgo! summer celebration, again and again I got details about men swimming together naked in lakes and rivers during the Līgo!, and got this:

Hey! Where’s Jāņi?

Suddenly, my enthusiasm started waning, slipping away from me…positively dropping…I mean, meadows have flowers. Lakes and rivers…well…mud.

One day I will celebrate the Līgo! though. When I’ve plucked up the courage – as apparently it doesn’t quite end there, according to the online brochures, as women sometimes sit and watch as the men take their communal dip.

The Līgo! is a somewhat mystical celebration, with according to ancient traditions couples search for a legendary fern blossom, with magical powers of fertility, as well as apparently washing faces in the grass`s morning dew, and gathering herbal plants which are said to have a special attributes during midsummer.

The festival is not modern, and the Līgo! Summer Solstice or Jāņi celebrations date back to Pagan times. Bonfires and other rituals were not only part of annual traditional celebrations, but also manifested the unity of cosmic and earth order. Jāņi is specifically the celebration of the longest day and shortest night of the year, as well as the name of a few particularly happy Latvian men.

Back from the meadow

Jāņi is also closely connected to the countryside – everybody tries to at least spend the day and/or night outside a residential area, drink home made beer, and hopefully tea, and search for that fern blossom in forests – a handy excuse if I ever heard one.

Expert Fern Blossom Searchers

Towns have the parades, dancing and specially-prepared foods, and as evening draws near, people are drawn to large bonfires, warming themselves around the fire, playing games, dancing and importantly, observing traditional rituals such as jumping through the fire to guarantee prosperity and fertility, as well as other activities until the sunrise. Hopefully fertility is still not on the agenda as I have a sneaky feeling I can’t keep up with that pace!

Dancing continues throughout the day…

”Where’s your Jāņi?”
”He’s swimming nude again, with friends!”

”Still swimming?”
”Yep!”

Young Jāņi

Not tea
For a taste of Latvian singing, in a beautiful atmosphere, please do click on this video – its a therapeutical sight and sound!
Click on Ligo Haibun Challenge on the list above, at the top of the page

30 thoughts on “Latvian Līgo! ~ Nudity, Fertility, Lucky Jāņi and Morning Dew

  1. Hello pirate…having blogged about Syria on Frizztext and really appreciated your entries, I am heartened by the sight of nubile revelers- real or imagined.

    This brings me to another, completely unrelated train of thought. Doris Lessing wrote a novella: “Adore”, which has been made in to a film. It is an indie and the critics, mostly gents, are in an uproar. There are two moms, lifelong friends, and their young adult sons.

    Horrors! One of the youth falls in love with mom’s best buddy. These same critics are saying things like “why would young men, in their prime, be interested in ‘museum pieces’”… (It was, of course, the fantastic B&W photo of the young man in the lake that brought this all up…)

    And so, I digress from war to wonder why men, of a certain age, may frolic with young ladies, but middle aged women cause critic after critic (stupid Americans- a group to which I belong) trash the Lessing tale. I have it queued up on my Kindle- release date 17/09/2013. A must read before more indignation.

    Feel free to erase all this blather. I am in a tizz about my government which then sends me off on other tangents.

    1. Sorry! Just saw your comment! I think there is a certain tradition of the older woman showing the younger man the ropes, while getting the benefit of his energy..but couldn’t agree with you more, as for indignation, isn’t it tiresome! Wonderful comment of yours, I must say, and how I wish I could report that the man in the lake was me! Alas!

    1. Can’t imagine what the attraction of knowing about men tramping around in mud and water is! Although yes, she did mention she found it quite spiritually uplifting…just to tease I think..though I may be wrong..

  2. First, thanks for the like on my blog. Second, I think I like your version better than the official version. But, the pics look like a lot of fun!

    1. Well…I was promised fresh maidens running in fields…I did get surprised to see males running around bared..so not that exciting for me..! Joking..nice festival..

        1. Yeah! Well next year I”m going to check there is a good supply, and find out where the men are running like that, ’cause I won’t be in that place….!

  3. Love your description of our pagan traditions…. well done, I must say! And so glad you included my favorite song from the Song Festival.

    1. Oh its beautiful, isn’t it! I think the festival is quite unique in the way it is celebrated.

  4. Intrigued by beauty, then you crushed me, as well, with the swimming boy, but that is not where you would find me. I would much rather be dancing around nubility.

    1. As long as you’re sure you can dance in nubile ways! Yes, I played a bit with you, dear reader, with the story and pictures! Sorry…next time will be more gentle and considerate..!

Play - will tap the ball back!

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