Latvia – Another country that sings

We stay in the Baltic countries and after having you showed some interesting facts about Estonia today I continue with its neighbour in the south – Latvia. First of all you have to know how to use the word Baltic. When talking about geography and culture you include all three countries in this region. But when you use Baltic in a linguistic sense you don’t include Estonia. While Latvian, Lithuanian and the extinct Old Prussian language form the Baltic branch within the Indo-European languages Estonian belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic language family and is very closely similar to Finnish. Nevertheless Latvia and Estonia both have a similar history and culture. In Riga which is a Hanseatic city you can find influences from Germany, Poland, Denmark and Sweden. And of course you can hear the Russian language everywhere. There are many Russian people living in the Baltic states still speaking their language. The influences from Germany and Scandinavia I mentioned you can find for instance on the building behind me on this picture. It’s the so called House of Blackheads or in Latvian melngalvju nams. You can also notice some influences from German, the Finno-Ugrian and the Scandinavian languages in the Latvian language. For instance the Latvian word for hour is stunda which is borrowed from the German Stunde. Carrot in Latvian is burkāns which comes from the Finno-Ugrian languages. The Estonian word is porgand and in Finnish it’s porkkana. By the way I want to show you a funny word game in Latvian. The Latvian word for juice is sula. But if you read it backwards as alus it means beer. But Latvia still has another thing in common with its Estonian neighbours. It’s the Singing Revolution which in Latvian is called Dziedatajā revolūcija. In Latvia the national hero was Krišjānis Barons who collected the so called dainas Latvian folk songs  and poems from all over Latvia. There are 217 996 dainas which you can see in a library in the museum named after him in the street also named after him. In the Esplanāde a park and a small canal in the middle of Rigas city centre you can also find a monument of Krišjānis Barons. A big stage similar to the Lauluväljak in Tallinn you can also find in Riga. It’s the Lielā estrāde in the Mežaparks which you can reach with the tram number 11 from the Old City in the north-east of Riga. The next Latvian Song and Dance Festival will take place in summer 2018 and I saw that whole the city is preparing for this huge occasion. There were construction works underway in the Mežaparks as well as at the House of Blackheads. Meanwhile some Russian tourists told me that at the same time Dalai Lama came to Riga. Many Asian people came to see him at the Skonto Olympic Hall. You see that on the one hand the Baltic countries have languages that differ from each other but in the other hand they share almost the same history. They demontrated it in August 1989 when people made a chain from Tallinn to Vilnius to make a statement of resistance against the Soviet occupation. But one problem still didn’t dissapear and keeps in being omnipresent in all Baltic countries. It’s the Situation of the Russian speaking people who still speak Russian with their families and friends at home. Imagine you live somewhere and one day the country suddenly is not yours and you are requested to learn and speak another language. Coming to Riga I saw in which poor conditions Russian people live on the edge of the capital. Some Problems these three countries have to face each day still didn’t disappear. However the history and culture of the three Baltic countries is really impressive!

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