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Summer Solstice Celebration in Cesis Brought Together Foreigners Living in Vidzeme
The morning of 21 June in the garden of the medieval castle in Cesis began with songs celebrating Summer Solstice. The Information Centre for Immigrants (ICI) had invited foreigners, who live near Cesis to the garden of the castle so they could learn more about Latvian traditions related to the longest day of the year.
People of various nationalities — Latvians, Chinese and Russians — all together laid the table for the occasion, learned to make wreaths from wild flowers and create Latvian signs assisted by volunteers. Children played music and everyone, old and young, had a lot of fun participating in games and dancing.
The Head of ICI Regional Point of Contact Baiba Zalcmane (Baiba Zalcmane) told about the reasons such an event was organised for foreigners in Cesis: “A year has passed since the opening of the Information Centre in Cesis in support of migrants, who have chosen to settle in Vidzeme. Jāņi (Midsummer) is nearing and we received many inquiries from foreigners with requests to explain, why Latvians celebrate, burn bonfires, make wreaths and play games on this day each year. We believed that the best way to answer these questions was to create for them an opportunity to experience Latvian traditions related to Summer Solstice celebration for themselves”. She tells that the fact that Chinese, who live in Cesis municipality, had made their own preparations and brought treats for the organisers and participants of the event indicates great interest in the subject as well.
“Regardless of the fact that some guests could speak neither Latvian, nor Russian, nor English this event demonstrated that the expression of human warmth does not require the knowledge of any language. The participants of the event were not impeded by the lack of a common language, because we understood each other without words – by means of a sincere smile and through emotions!” shares her experience B.Zalcmane.
The participants were really happy about an opportunity to celebrate this Latvian festival all together and experience a greater sense of belonging to our state, as well as meet their compatriots. Tegsijs from China: “This party was great! We value highly Latvian historical and cultural traditions, music, folklore and feasts. They are very beautiful! Thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in this celebration and I would like to thank the Information Centre for the provided support too”.
The event ended with an excursion through the medieval castle, a visit to a woman who gathers and knows herbs and makes herbal remedies and the Master of Ancient Jewellery.
The team of the Information Centre would like to offer their thanks to Cesis Tourism Information Centre — for the opportunity to organise the event for our foreign guests in the garden of the castle and for its hospitality. We would like to thank the local entrepreneurs for the treats provided for the occasion – “Cēsu alus” for drinks and “Straupes piens” for the opportunity to enjoy real Jāņi cheese!
The next event in Cesis is scheduled for August this year. Chinese nationals living in Cesis invite anyone interested in their culture and traditions to attend it!
“Information Centre for Immigrants” is implemented within the framework of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and is co-funded by the European Union. Activities of the Information Centre are ensured and developed by the Society “Shelter “Safe House””. Grant agreement No. PMIF/12/2016/1/1.
Information was prepared by: Rasa Salina (Rasa Saliņa), Communications and Social Media Expert, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org