On the eve of the Latvian State Centenary, an unprecedented number of people in Latvia and elsewhere celebrated White Tablecloth Day on 4 May. In countless homes, schools, and workplaces, and in almost 200 public celebration sites, one quarter of Latvia’s inhabitants (according to data from Kantar TNS) gathered to celebrate the renewal of Latvian independence – one of the most important events marking Latvia’s hundredth birthday.
This year White Tablecloth Day was celebrated in honour of renewed Latvian independence for the third year in a row. Throughout Latvia, people celebrated Liberty, the fundamental value of the state, by raising the flag and gathering around a white-tablecloth covered table, remembering the crucial events of May 1990 and setting goals for a stronger Latvia in the next century.
The White Tablecloth Day tradition was created to honour the events of 4 May 1990 and to encourage people to celebrate this important occasion. In the few years since this new tradition began, public opinion regarding its importance has changed significantly. In 2015 only 2% of the population considered this to be among the state’s most significant celebrations, but this year that number has grown to 54%.
Continuing the festive White Tablecloth Day traditions, this year residents complemented their white table settings by symbolically dressing in white and using white to decorate their celebration venues. The most active celebrants in Mārupe kicked off their celebration with a bicycle ride wearing something white or dressed in white entirely. The residents of Carnikava covered their table with a specially woven 30-metre long white tablecloth in honour of the Renewal of Latvian Independence. And the residents of Magdalena Quarter celebrated with their neighbours again this year.
For some, the festivities began already on May 3rd as many heartfelt community events were organised throughout the country.
This year the participation of schools was especially enthusiastic. The youngest celebrators learned about the historical events of May 4, recited patriotic poems, joined together in song and dance, made crafts and participated in other performances dedicated to Latvia. The Primary School in More marked the occasion by enjoying a meal together around the white table, while pupils at Laucesa Primary School recited poems and shared their knowledge of Latvian history, traditions, and culture. At the close of the event, everyone gathered around the table to partake of a traditional Latvian meal—rye bread, honey, and herbal tea. The pupils of Smiltene Secondary School welcomed their guests by singing the Latvian folk song Pie Dieviņa gari galdi (The tables in heaven are long).
Elsewhere in the world, Latvians celebrated the Renewal of Latvian Independence on Saturday May 5 by participating in the initiative Run Latvia in the World—running or walking a route shaped like the contours of Latvia—organised by the Latvian Institute and the association VSK Noskrien. In the UK, the pop group Prāta Vētra (Brainstorm) performed concerts in Birmingham and Manchester on May 3 and 4. In Frankfurt White Tablecloth Day was celebrated at the Latvian Association on May 4, while the Latvian Embassy in Ireland invited all-comers to climb St. Patrick’s Hill with the Latvian flag and enjoy a White Tablecloth Day picnic on May 5. In Spain the people of Latvia climbed the highest mountain in Madrid, but Latvians in Italy did the Latvia Run and afterwards met in Sentione Park to celebrate.
The month of May is the time when every resident of Latvia is encouraged to think about the value of Liberty, bringing the feeling of celebration into every town and city, and every home.
Therefore, for the third year in a row, the Latvian Ministry of Culture’s Latvia 100 Office invited all residents of Latvia to raise the Latvian flag and create their own White Tablecloth celebrations in honour of the Renewal of Latvian independence. White Tablecloth Day reminds us that Latvian independence was restored thanks to the relentless action, courage and audacity of certain individuals.
Seven months remain until Latvia celebrates its hundredth birthday, and events dedicated to the Centenary continue to take place around Latvia and in many cities around the world. We will continue to mark this important occasion throughout the month of May, or Liberty Month, with a wide range of athletic, cultural, and educational events that honour and strengthen the fundamental value of our nation and our people—Freedom. Find out more about Liberty Month events at lv100.lv/en/programme/calendar/liberty-month/
For additional information contact:
Office Latvia 100 Public Relations Specialist
Ministry of Culture
Tel: 67330339 / Mobile: 29374438