In February, Latvians celebrate one of their traditional calendar festivals Meteņi – a celebration dedicated to bidding farewell to the winter and welcoming the spring. Special folk songs are sung on this day, with people going out in merry song and dance to greet friends and neighbors.
Together with local folklore groups, Meteņi is celebrated in many Latvian towns and villages. The festival is also celebrated each year at the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum near Riga, as well as the Turaida Castle Complex and Museum near Sigulda.
As in many other traditional Latvian celebrations, people dress in national costume during Meteņi, however, masks are also worn during the festive procession.
One of the most important rituals during Meteņi is taking a ride – either on a sled, a horse drawn carriage, or even skating on a pond. According to belief, people must take a ride on Meteņi in order to ensure a good harvest.
Meteņi usually falls in February, on the seventh Tuesday before Easter. However, in modern times, Meteņi is usually celebrated on the weekend.
Meteņi this year will be celebrated at the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum on February 16. As the celebration’s organizers inform - "During Meteņi, we will go from house to house in a merry song and dance, take rides on sleds and horse drawn carriages, and even have dog sleds available".
Another Meteņi celebration will take place at the Turaida Castle Complex and Museum near Sigulda also this February 16.