Costumes at the national dance day at Riga, Latvia.
I had the chance to be in Latvia on this great event.
Latvia is known as The Land That Sings. The Latvian Song and Dance Festival which takes place in Riga once every five years takes over the hearts and minds of the entire nation. The simple fact is that the festival is inextricably bound with Latvia's very identity.
After centuries of foreign rule, social and political changes in the 19th century led to the rise of a National Awakening in the minds of the Latvian people. They strove to rediscover their Latvian identity, despite the oppressive influence of so many foreign powers. The way they did this was through song.
Latvian folksongs, or 'Dainas', have a centuries old history and is estimated that over 1.2 million exist - making Latvian oral tradition one of the richest in the world. Dainas are characteristically made up of quatrains, or four-lined stanzas, and their topic usually include philosophies on life, love and the world order and the important rites of passage surrounding birth, marriage and death.
If you want to see it, check it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=baaX4-1_df0