Latvian celebration of Lāčplēsis Day and Independence Day

The month of November makes every Latvian proud and very often we see Latvians wearing a small Latvian flag on their clothes – being it just a pin or a ribbon. Why? There are many events making this month so special to Latvians. The period between the Proclamation of the Independent Republic of Latvia on the 18th November 1918 and the 11th November 1919 was one of the most complicated periods in Latvia's history as battles were still going on for the independence of the newly-born country. Only in 1919 it became clear that Latvia is truly independent when the Russian Army was driven from Riga during the Latvian War of Independence.

Thus on the 11th November Latvians light up candles to commemorate the victory over the West Russian Volunteer Army at the battle of Riga on the 11th November 1919. The name of the memorial day comes from the Latvian epic hero – Lāčplēsis or the Bear Slayer. Along with events like laying of flowers at Riga Brethren Cemetery, followed by a military parade in front of the Monument of Freedom, in the evening people gather at the Daugava Riverside to lay candles at the Riga Castle.

On the 11th November the Latvian contingent of the BALTDEFCOL together with representatives of the Tartu Latvian Society and the Ambassador of Latvia to Estonia H.E. Mr. Juris Bone laid candles as every year in Tartu Raadi cemetery to commemorate Latvian soldiers who died in Estonia during World War I.

The Latvian Independence Day in its turn commemorates declaration of independence of the Republic of Latvia from German and Russian occupation on November 18, 1918 after the end of the First World War, when the People's Council of Latvia proclaimed independence in the building that today houses the National Theatre in Rīga.

To mark this event, and on the occasion of the visit of H.E. President of the Republic of Latvia Mr. Raimonds Vējonis, the Latvian staff and students of the Joint Command and General Staff Course together with their families participated in a concert of the choir “Kamēr” and a reception in the House of the Blackheads in Tallinn on the 15th November.

Following the festive mood on the 16th November 2016 the Latvian contingent of the Baltic Defence College together with other members of the staff and students celebrated the Lāčplēsis Day and the 98th Anniversary of the Republic of Latvia in facilities of their hosting building.

Finally, to have a genuine feeling of the celebration the Commandant of the BALTDEFCOL Major General Andis Dilāns participated in the Ecumenical church service at Rīga Cathedral, flower laying ceremony at the Monument of Freedom and a military parade in Latvia, Riga. By the way, the participation of a group of standard-bearers from the BALTDEFCOL in this parade, which starts at the bank of Daugava and continues past the Monument of Freedom and along the Brīvības (Freedom) Street, has already become a tradition.

/Additional sources used for the article: http://www.latvia.travel/en/event/11th-november-lacplesis-day; http://www.officeholidays.com/countries/latvia/independence_day.php. Photos made by Mr Raido Saar and from personal archives of the BALTDEFCOL staff and students/

 
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