Monday, July 07, 2008

Dziesma ir Spēks!

Song is strength! This is the motto of the XXIV Latvian Song Festival, being celebrated this week in Riga (along with the XIV Dance Festival, which would like to note that Dance is also strength, or perhaps power, or even vitality, depending on how you translate it). The Latvian national identity is very closely tied to singing (about which more later), and once every five years the whole country - and it feels like almost literally the whole country, which is possible in a country the size of Latvia - gathers in Riga for a celebration of their folk songs. Singing groups come from every corner of the country, wearing their traditional costumes, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. On Sunday, there was a parade where all of 38,000 of them strolled down the main boulevard of the capital for hours and hours. The staff photographer was there, long enough to fill up the memory card on the camera, but not long enough to see the conclusion of the parade.

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