Traditional Latvian folklore, particularly the dancing of folk tunes, has a thousand-year history. More than 1.2 million words and 30,000 folk song tunes have been discovered.
Baltic Germans, many of whom were of non-German heritage but had been absorbed into German culture, constituted the top class between the 13th and 19th centuries. They created their own cultural identity, influenced by both Latvian and German influences. Despite their dispersion to Germany, the United States, Canada, and other countries in the early twentieth century, it has persisted in German Baltic families to this day. The majority of indigenous Latvians, on the other hand, did not engage in this specific cultural life. As a result, the mostly peasant pagan history of the area was maintained, partially blending with Christian customs. Ji, a pagan festival of the summer solstice—which Latvians commemorate on St. John the Baptist’s feast day—is one of the most popular festivities.
Latvian nationalism movements arose in the nineteenth century. They encouraged Latvians to participate in cultural events and promoted Latvian culture. The classical period of Latvian culture is generally considered as the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Posters by painters such as the Baltic-German artist Bernhard Borchert and the French Raoul Dufy demonstrate the influence of various European civilizations. Many Latvian artists and other members of the cultural elite left the nation when World War II broke out, but they continued to create work, mostly for a Latvian émigré audience.
The Latvian Song and Dance Festival is a significant cultural and social event in Latvia. It has taken place every five years since 1873. A total of 30,000 artists are expected to take part in the event. Although folk songs and classical choir songs are often performed, with a focus on a cappella singing, contemporary popular songs have lately been added to the repertoire.
Latvian artists and authors were compelled to adopt the socialist realism style of art after joining the Soviet Union. Music grew more popular throughout the Soviet period, with 1980s tunes being the most popular. Songs of the period frequently mocked aspects of Soviet society while also emphasizing the need of maintaining Latvian identity. This sparked anti-USSR demonstrations as well as a surge in poetry’s popularity. Theatre, scenography, choir music, and classical music have been the most prominent areas of Latvian culture since independence.
Riga hosted the 8th World Choir Games in July 2014, which attracted over 27,000 choristers from over 450 choirs from over 70 nations. The festival, which is the world’s largest of its type, takes place every two years in a new host city.
Agricultural goods are often used in Latvian cuisine, with meat appearing in the majority of main meal dishes. Because to Latvia’s position on the Baltic Sea, fish is often eaten. The cuisine of Latvia has been influenced by its neighbors. Potatoes, wheat, barley, cabbage, onions, eggs, and pig are all locally available components in Latvian cuisine. Latvian cuisine is often greasy and utilizes minimal seasonings.
Grey peas and ham are often regarded as Latvian staple dishes. Latvians like sorrel soup as well. Rupjmaize is a rye-based black bread that is considered a national staple.
Ice hockey is often regarded as Latvia’s most popular sport. Many famous hockey stars have come from Latvia, including Helmut Balderis, Artrs Irbe, Krlis Skrasti, and Sandis Ozoli, as well as more recently Zemgus Girgensons, whom the Latvian people have strongly supported in international and NHL play, as evidenced by the dedication of using the NHL’s All Star Voting to bring Zemgus to the top of the polls. Dinamo Riga, which competes in the Kontinental Hockey League, is the country’s best hockey team. The Latvian Hockey Higher League, which has been contested since 1931, is the national competition. Riga hosted the 2006 IIHF World Championship.
Basketball is the second most popular sport. Latvia has a lengthy basketball history, with the Latvian national team winning the first ever EuroBasket in 1935 and silver medals in 1939 following a one-point loss in the final against Lithuanians. Jnis Krmi, Maigonis Valdmanis, Valdis Muinieks, Valdis Valters, Igors Miglinieks, and Gundars Vtra, the first Latvian NBA player, were among the country’s numerous basketball heroes. Andris Biedri, a former NBA player, is another well-known Latvian basketball player. Kristaps Porziis, who plays for the New York Knicks in the NBA, is one of the current players. Before going bankrupt, former Latvian basketball team ASK Riga won the Euroleague competition three times in a row. VEF Rga, which plays in the EuroCup, is now Latvia’s most powerful professional basketball team. BK Ventspils, which competes in EuroChallenge, is Latvia’s second-best basketball team, having won the LBL eight times and the BBL in 2013. Latvia was one of the host countries for EuroBasket 2015.
Football, floorball, tennis, volleyball, cycling, bobsleigh, and skeleton are some of the other prominent sports (sport). For the first time, the Latvian national football team competed in the 2004 UEFA Euro.
Latvia has competed in both the Winter and Summer Olympics with success. Mris Trombergs, the most successful Olympic athlete in the history of independent Latvia, was a two-time Olympic champion in Men’s BMX in 2008 and 2012.