Latvia Independence Day 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

Latvia celebrates its Independence Day annually on 18th November. It is also known as the Proclamation Day of the Republic of Latvia. As proclamation of independence was adopted on this Day in 1918. 

On this day in 1918, Latvia declared its independence from Russian occupation after World War I. But who knew that the country would need to do it all over again 72 years later? Latvia Independence Day commemorates a nation’s struggle to retain its lands and identity. After centuries of occupation under numerous rulers, Latvia became independent (once again) in 1991. 

This holiday is celebrated on November 18th. If the day is on the weekend, then the following Monday is a holiday. It is a day of Celebrations for the Latvian people to proudly display their culture and heritage. 

Event Latvia Independence Day
Date November 18, 2022
Day Friday
Significance The day celebrates teh proclamation of independence from from Russian occupation after World War I
Observed by Latvia

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Latvia Independence Day History: 

The history of Latvia began around 9000 BC with the end of the last glacial period in northern Europe. Ancient Baltic peoples arrived in the area during the second millennium BC, and four distinct tribal realms in Latvia’s territory were identifiable towards the end of the first millennium AD. In the early medieval period, the region’s peoples resisted Christianisation and became subject to attack in the Northern Crusaders. Because of Latvia’s strategic location and prosperous trading city of Riga, its territories were a frequent focal point for conflict and conquest between at least four major powers: the State of the Teutonic Order, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Sweden and the Russian Empire. 

The last period of external hegemony began in 1710, when control over Riga and parts of modern-day Latvia switched from Sweden to Russia during the Great Northern War. Under Russian control, Latvia was in the vanguard of industrialisation and the abolition of serfdom, so that by the end of the 19th century, it had become one of the most developed parts of the Russian Empire. The increasing social problems and rising discontent that this brought meant that Riga also played a leading role in the 1905 Russian Revolution. The First Latvian National Awakening began in the 1850s and continued to bear fruit after World War I when, after two years of struggle in the Latvian War of Independence, Latvia finally won sovereign independence, as recognised by Soviet Russia in 1920 and by the international community in 1921. 

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The Constitution of Latvia was adopted in 1922. Political instability and effects of the Great Depression led to the May 15, 1934 coup d’état by Prime Minister Kārlis Ulmanis. Latvia’s independence was interrupted in June–July 1940, when the country was occupied and incorporated into the Soviet Union. In 1941 it was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany, then reconquered by the Soviets in 1944–45. By 1949, the country was one of the most industrialized and prosperous regions in the Soviet Union. But the Latvians hadn’t forgotten their 20 years of independence, no matter how short-lived. The yearning for freedom only grew stronger year by year. 

As ever since the occupation years begin Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic was subject to Soviet economic control and saw considerable Russification of its peoples. However, Latvian culture and infrastructures survived and, during the period of Soviet liberalisation under Mikhail Gorbachev, Latvia once again took a path towards independence, eventually succeeding in August 1991 to be recognised by Russia the following month. Since then, under restored independence, Latvia has become a member of the United Nations, entered NATO and joined the European Union. 

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Latvia Independence Day Significance: 

The month of November makes every Latvian proud as it us full of historical importance. 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.

The Latvians fought a very long and hard battle for independence. Many of us throw the word ‘freedom’ around without much thought. Latvia’s story makes us stop in our tracks to appreciate what we have. This is a day which teaches us value about the freedom and also makes us aware about the long and struggling independence movement which was carried out by Latvians for preserving their culture  language and heritage and this effort definitely deserves a appreciation and most be remembered that’s why we celebrate this day.  

This is a day which gives an opportunity to all of the Latvians to openly express their pride towards their culture and traditions. It gives them a chance to express who they are towards the world. It is also a time of celebrations during which all Latvians have a nice moment to spend together celebrating with love and patriotism for their country. So overall we can say that is a day full of activity with very entertaining things to do in an atmosphere filled with pride and emotions for the nation and it’s people.

Latvia is a country which has a fair share in the world’s history especially in European history but it is often seen that it isn’t much discussed enough outside of Latvia or the Baltic nations. So this day gives us an opportunity to dig a little bit deeper into the history and culture of this small but beautiful and amazing country with a rich history and culture. So of you are planking to visit this country then this is the perfect opportunity to experience some of the best events taking place in the country during this period. 

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Latvia Independence Day Celebrations: 

Various public events take place all over the country, including concerts and fireworks. Torchlight processions held by various organizations have been part of Proclamation Day celebrations and Lāčplēsis Day celebrations since the 1920s. The largest torchlight procession organized by the National Alliance takes place in the capital city Riga and attracts thousands of participants every year. 

Its route through the streets of the city centre traditionally starts at the monument of Kārlis Ulmanis, the first prime minister of Latvia, and ends at the Freedom Monument. A popular modern tradition established in 2009, is for people all over the world to sing the Latvian national anthem Dievs, svētī Latviju! at the same time (21:00 EET). 

Another tradition with a long history is the Latvian National Armed Forces parade, which nowadays is held at 11 November Embankment in Riga and was reintroduced in 1998. After the restoration of the independence, the first parade of the National Armed Forces took place in Riga at the Freedom Monument in 1993, which was dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Latvian state. The parade was also broadcast on Latvian Television.  

You can also enjoy numerous cultural events on Latvia’s most important public holiday. The Riga Culture and Folk Center usually features performances by local choirs and folk dance troupes. It is also the best time for you to enjoy some delicious Latvian cuisine, some of the most popular dishes of Latvian cuisine includes rye bread, beetroot soup, speck, and a signature smoked fish dish called Liepaja menciņš. 

Most Searched FAQs on Latvia Independence Day: 

1. When is Latvia Independence Day celebrated? 

Latvia Independence Day is annually celebrated on 18th November. 

2. How does Latvia celebrate Independence Day? 

The day is a public holiday in Latvia. People usually attend parades and concerts. In the evenings, there are torchlight processions and fireworks displays. 

3. What is May 4th in Latvia? 

May 4th is the Freedom Celebration, an annual military parade in honor of the Day of Restoration of Latvia Independence.

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