Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Lacplesa Diena!

It's Veterans' Day in the U.S., but in Latvia it is Lāčplēša Diena. Lāčplēsis is the legendary hero of Latvian folklore. No offense to the good people of Latvia, but he's kind of a goofy hero. He is part-man, part-bear: But looking from the outside the only part that looks like a bear is his big furry ears. If that wasn't odd enough, his exploits involve protecting the Latvian people from all variety of invaders, but mostly bears. So he had the ears of a bear, which made him particularly good at killing bears. I guess it probably sounded better around a campfire in a dark forest a few hundred years ago, before they had Terminator movies where a guy who is part robot is extra-good at protecting humans from robots. Actually, most of the story (which I admit I've only read a synopsis of) is about fighting the evil German missionaries trying to Christianize pagan Latvia.

A bonus fun fact - the street I live on was named after the guy who collected all the folk stories of Lāčplēsis and wrote them into a book during the late 1800's when there was a lot of interest in formalizing the Latvian national identity.

Lāčplēša diena isn't really about Lāčplēsis, though. Lāčplēsis Day commeomrates the November 11, 1919 victory over remaining German armies in the struggle for independence that followed World War I. One of the Latvian military's highest honors is the "Order of Lāčplēsis," named after the hero, and established after the victory in 1919.


Dan said...

Does a winner of the Order of Lāčplēsis receive a hat like this one? Is that, perhaps, a photo of a winner of the award?

bathmate said...

thank you for your nice posting