Europe Summer Solstice Events

Maras Loks in Latvia – Summer Solstice Celebration

Enjoy some Baltic summer solstice festivities with Latvian community Maras Loks.

Maras Loks Ceremony_June

What: Jāņi or Summer Solstice Celebration

Where: Janis Hill, Turaida Museum Reserve, Latvia
Turaidas street 10, Sigulda, Siguldas region, LV-2150, Latvia

When: June 21st – 22nd Time: 19:00 – 5:00

WhoMaras Loks  /  Turaid Muzejs  /  Sigulda

marasloks4

About: Join Maras Loks in their summer solstice festivities ”Jāņi” in Latvia as they entreat members of the public with colorful and traditional Baltic customs according to ancient traditions on the grounds of the well known Turaida Museum Reserve.

From the museum’s website:

Jāņi is a somewhat mystic event, as, according to ancient traditions, you have to search for the Legendary fern blossom, wash your face in the grass`s morning dew, and gather herbal plants, which are said to have a special power midsummer.

Preparatory celebrations commence in the evening at 19:00 where women make wreathes, and men build torches and sun wheels, followed by other activities and blessing rituals. The first solstice fire begins with the sound of traditional Baltic horns calling participants to gather at the Janis Hillside, followed by storytelling, song and rituals for couples. Later in the evening a midnight fire is lit with more dance, song and ancient rituals. Another horn is sound in the early hours to gather participants to take part in morning dew rituals on Dainu Hill until they greet the sun and finish the ceremonies by the Gauja river.

For a full itinerary of previous year’s celebrations visit this page.  The ceremony will take place in Latvian.

Summer Solstice Bow

Maras Loks summer solstice ceremony

Below is a video from a local Latvian TV station about the event:

Below is a photo gallery from Maras Loks’s 2007 summer solstice:

Please note: this event is not run by The Spiritual Sun. Please contact the organizers directly or visit their website if you would like more details about this event. The organizers are:  Maras Loks  /  Turaid Muzejs  /  Sigulda

Back to the traditional celebrations page.

About the author

Olga

14 Comments

  • This celebration looks beautiful. Something that caught my attention was that thing on fire that they sent down the hill. It reminds me of something I read about the vikings, or heard about them, that they would roll a wheel of fire down a hill, to symbolise the return of the sun during the winter solstice. They called it a sun wheel. I think it had the shape of a cross in the middle.

  • Thanks Olga for taking the time to put all this information together.
    Loved the video and the picture gallery, it’s very nice to see that everyone is having so much fun.

  • I agree, what a beautiful atmosphere :-)! It seems characteristically present with such natural celebrations at the time of the summer solstice. Like something that can be tapped into at that time of the year with such celebrations.

    I like the idea of the horn signalling the next rite or activity, I imagine it’ll bellow nicely over the site. That gathering of the dew and sprinkling it on the face seems like a very old and sacred practice as well. There’s something very special about it and to me seems like something to do in a very silent and solemn way.

    It’s amazing how this summer solstice celebration is similar to others, and yet seems to have it’s own unique Latvian elements as well. It’s funny items like clothes and such are uniform and there’s no sign of ‘modern times’, it’s easy to wonder what time period am I looking at? What place? What planet? 😉

    Thanks Olga for putting this together.

    The decorated bonfire area is beautiful btw, like an altar for the sacred fire itself. Something to keep in mind for future bonfires!

    • That’s nicely said Karim – an altar for the sacred fire. 🙂
      I also liked how a couple seem to be lighting it, and even though there is something special on women lighting the fire, it makes sense that a couple would do it too.

    • Yes, I like the part of washing your face with morning dew, especially. Somehow I’ve heard about this growing up, and I thought it was very magical. There seem to be a lot of stories about the magical properties of dew.

  • I agree, this looks very beautiful and it seems it’s something that’s been going on for a long time – the tradition seem to be very old. And yes that sunrise was spectacular!!!

  • Beautiful, thank you Olga for sharing all these details about their celebrations. They look very pretty and pure with lots of spiritual symbolism and inspiring traditions (like washing your face in the morning dew or gathering ferns). The second image is really beautiful – how they decorated all the area around the fire with different symbolic plants and flowers.
    I also like how the men have those really big, bushy wreaths on their heads! 🙂

    Both videos were very inspiring too, and the sunrise at the end of the first one just breathtaking!
    It amazes me how all these beautiful traditions are resurfacing these days all around the world.

    • I also think the sunrise is a very special part of this celebration, the timing is perfect. After an evening of joyful festivities, celebrating with lots of people, until washing your face with the morning dew, and then quietly walking to see the sunrise is almost like being a witness to a very carefully choreographed sunrise viewing. I can just imagine there is a certain preparation that these types of organized celebrations create, and once someone eventually comes to meet the sun they can perhaps sense a greater importance that the sun plays on this day, just through the unfolding of events and the opportunity to soak in the full experience of the activities leading up the the final triumph of the rising sun at its strongest point in the year.

  • So so beautiful, thanks Olga. Do you know what the symbology is of the fire on the tower? It looks like they are lighting it with flaming arrows.

    • I was wondering about that too, Ella – there was also something looking like a snake leading to it, made of some greens.

    • I am not sure, but it would be interesting to find out 🙂

      Baltic folklore is full of symbolism. Some of which is very different to western stories, very pure and innocent, yet sometimes obscure. Serpents are actually very much part of it. Although I wonder how much is really understood. It would be worthwhile to gather more research into some of the more esoteric myths and see if even in this ancient part of the world the spirituality of the sun was used as a vehicle to help people achieve a spiritual liberation.

    • According to Maras Loks, lighting the tall wooden beams with fire symbolizes the sun’s zenith – referring to the fact that on the summer solstice the sun is at its strongest point.

      Similarly, having the light shining high is part of various symbols specific to the Baltic summer solstice showing a sun above a tree:

      Baltic Summer Solstice Symbols

      I find the above quite interesting as it shows the symbol of the pine tree and the sun, which also carry hidden esoteric symbols related to spiritual awakening disguised in the patterns of nature (Divine Father & Divine Sun/Son).

      The ritual aspect of the fire is only made during or after sunset, to give light throughout the night and to counter the darkness of night with the stronger influence of light of the summer solstice that is present on this day.

      According to Maras Loks, the light of the fire blesses and protects the area and space where it is lit. The tall wooden beams lit with fire give sight to participants from afar and highlight key celebration areas. But there are also special fire torches that people run across the fields with or burn fire wheels in order to carry light to different places and bless the areas.

      • Thank you for the further research Olga! It is very inspiring to hear how much emphasis people are giving to the spiritual aspect of the Sun in the Baltic cultures.
        The sun above a tree is a really nice spiritual symbol, haven’t heard about it yet.

      • Thanks Olga for the find. It’s a really beautiful celebration!

        I also find the tall fires very powerful – it feels fitting to have a fire that symbolizes the sun huge (but safe), most of all on the Summer Solstice.

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