#1 Best Guide To Easter And Holy Saturday In Latvia

holy saturday in latvian

Latvian people enjoy a week-long celebration dedicated to Lieldienas (Easter, literally: “big day”). The festivities kick off with Palm Sunday and then proceed to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. There are many interesting Latvian traditions associated with this time, and we’re here to help you discover some of them!

Holy Saturday in Latvia is part of the Holy Week, or Klusā Nedēļa, which means many Easter traditions take place during that day. If you’d like to know a little more about Easter in Latvia and how it’s celebrated, continue reading below! And if you want to learn a little Latvian beforehand, check out the Ling app!

What Is Holy Saturday In Latvia?

For Christians in Latvia and the world, Holy Saturday is the day before Easter Sunday, when they believe Jesus Christ was resuscitated. As part of Lieldienas (Easter), Latvians celebrate this time with great anticipation, with a busy slate of things to do such as painting eggs, cooking up a delicious pashka, and building a swing!

Other Minority Spoken Languages In Latvia

Easter Traditions In Latvia

People in Latvia have many traditions in preparation for the Holy Week. For instance, on the first day, Latvians wake up early and splash running water on their face before going outside and scaring the surrounding birds away. You see, birds symbolized evil in old Latvian mythology, and sending the creatures flying off means simultaneously getting rid of bad luck and illness.

Let’s discover some more Latvian traditions for this time!

Egg Decorating

In Latvia, Lieldienas eggs are created by decorating them and getting your hands dirty! They are a fun way to celebrate the Easter holidays for adults and kids alike.

The traditional method of using natural sources to create dyes for the Easter eggs is still in common practice today. Onion skins are used to make a yellowish or brown tint, red cabbage makes a bright reddish or purple color, and birch leaves or fir needles create a vibrant green shade.

All of these ingredients are attached to the eggs (ideally white eggs, since the colors will stick better) by using a string to firmly force the color to adhere. No matter what color the eggs are, you can be sure they’ll look good enough to eat (or just admire!).

Egg Rolling Game

The eggs aren’t just for decorating and eating; they’re also meant to be played with! Latvians enjoy playing the egg rolling game, a fun contest that gives bragging rights to whoever has the strongest egg. The game involves rolling the eggs down a slope or board to see which one cracks first.

easter eggs in latvia

Egg Fights

Keeping up with what else is done with Easter eggs…fighting is also on the table! Opponents match up with each other in egg-to-egg combat by trying to break the other person’s eggshell, all while trying to keep theirs intact. The winner is the person whose egg remains unbroken.

Cooking Easter Pashka

A traditional dish Latvians like to make for Easter is pashka. This Latvian food is traditionally a Russian dish, but Latvians adopted it into their celebrations and call it “Lieldienu siers” which means Easter cheese.

It’s a dense and rich dish made by using cottage cheese and combining it with lots of rich ingredients like eggs, cream, and butter, with little slivers of almonds on top for a nice garnish. As a cheese lover, I would definitely enjoy eating this traditional snack!

Building A Swing

One of the older traditions Latvians take part in is building a swing. There are key factors to look out for in order to make the best swing possible: One, find a tall hill. And two, make the swing super sturdy, because your next task is to swing on it as high as possible!

This tradition is said to encourage the sun to rise higher and higher in the sky, while others say it deters mosquitoes from biting. The interesting twist is that a week after Easter, the swing should be burned so that witches can’t swing on it!

swing latvia holy saturday

Early Morning Traditions

At the beginning of the Holy Week, Latvians grab hold of branches from pussy willow plants, since palms are not typical to the country’s geography. Funnily enough, tradition says that the first person to wake up in the household gets the green light to wake up everybody else by beating them (gently) with the pussy willow branches. It might be wise to remember to set your alarm for this day to get up bright and early!

Another tradition that takes place early in the morning is heading out before sunrise in order to bring great fortune to yourself. People also put on fresh and brand-new shirts so they can be well-equipped to do their best at their jobs for the rest of the year. But you just might ruin your shirt because another superstition says to lie down on the fresh morning dew to bring healthy wishes all year round!

Latvian Vocabulary For Easter

If you’re living in Latvia, or are just curious about the language, here are some words and phrases that will help you better connect with the locals during this time:

EnglishLatvianPronunciation
EasterLieldienasLyehl-dyeh-nahs
EggOlaO-lah
SwingŠūpolesShoo-poh-lehs
Easter BunnyLieldienu zaķisLyehl-dyeh-nu zah-kis
BasketGrozsGrohzs
ChurchBaznīcaBaz-nee-tsah
SpringPavasarisPah-vah-sah-ris
Easter Egg HuntOlu medībasO-lu meh-dee-bahs
Good FridayLielā PiektdienaLyeh-lah Pyehk-tdyeh-nah
Holy SaturdayKlusā SestdienaKloo-sah Sehs-tdyeh-nah
Easter SundaySvētā SvētdienaSveh-tah Sveh-tdyeh-nah
BreadMaizeMy-zeh
DecorateRotātRoh-taht

Learn More About Latvia Holidays

There are so many interesting things to note about Latvia and the ways Latvians celebrate holidays. Whether you’re living on the country and can check out how Easter and Holy Saturday are celebrated in person, or you just enjoy learning about Latvia in general, you can explore so much more with Ling!

There are tons more articles on Ling’s blog about Latvian culture and language. And while you’re checking out the blog, be sure to also check out Latvian and the other Eastern European languages available for you to learn on the Ling app! You can download it from the App Store or Play Store.

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