Latvian solar year
Since Latvia is in the northern hemisphere the sunrise and sunset hours vary greatly from season to season. In the Winter Solstice the sun rises in South East and sets in the South West while in the Summer Solstice the day is three times longer – the sunrise and sunset takes place in the North East and North West. On the Spring Solstice and Autumn Solstice the day and night are of equal length. No wonder that with such extreme daylight fluctuations the sun is the one that led the rhythm of Latvian life. Latvians, the peasant folk lived in a close conjunction with the nature.
In between every of the eight year sections Latvians celebrated a seasonal festivity. The celebration of the two largest have reminded as a strong Latvian tradition also today - Winter Solstice (Christmas) and Summer Solstice (Jāņi). Also Easter is still widely celebrated. The other festivities nowadays are celebrated only by the few, however only a hundred years ago those were a natural part of the Latvian life. No doubt that through centuries there had been influence of the Christian church on the traditional celebrations, e.g. church festivities have blended with the former pagan ones.
Although today Latvians live by Gregorian calendar, the rhythm of Solar year remains in the Latvian veins. Naturally that season determines what is put on the Latvian table, and every festivity has its traditional dishes.