Midsummer’s Eve is a public holiday and a huge deal in Latvia, rivalling Christmas for the status of most important Latvian festivity. The holiday comes on the summer solstice, on the shortest night of the year. It’s alternate name is “Ligo”, which is of pagan origins.
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On Midsummer’s Eve, Latvians traditionally stay up all night and wait to greet the rising sun in the morning. In a land where hyper-cold temperatures and mountains of snow and ice are the established scenery for months every winter, it’s no wonder that the midpoint of summer is greeted with enthusiasm.
People go out and light up big bon fires to begin the festivities. They then drink beer and chat around the fire while awaiting the sun. Women pick flowers and make wreaths to wear on their heads, and men traditionally may go skinny dipping in a local lake or river.