Many events related to freedom and independence, important for our country’s history, have taken place in the month of May—the Constitutional Assembly of Latvia was first convened on May 1, the Restoration of Latvian Independence was announced on May 4, we mark the defeat of Nazism and commemorate the victims of World War II on May 8, and we celebrate Europe Day on May 9.
This May the events dedicated to the Latvian State Centenary are focused around the theme of Freedom, calling on everyone to recognise and appreciate the opportunities we are given thanks to our Freedom.
One great Liberty is ours – for all of Latvia, blessed and white. All of us, the people of this land, carry responsibility for it. And a part of it belongs to each of us – a personal piece of one’s own. And each person is responsible for that bit themselves, to make sure it isn’t lost in the wind.
Must we be coerced into taking on responsibility for our Liberty? No! It is a pleasant duty, and in discharging it you feel you have gained something. Just as a garden gives joy and provides sustenance because you have tended it, watered it, and protected it from pests. As we have done, so we shall continue.
For Liberty protects us and we protect our Liberty.
The main events of the Month of Liberty:
On May 4 the doors of the Latvian National History Museum will open to visitors of the largest joint museum project in Latvian history—the exhibition The Latvian Century. Here visitors will be able to see historical documents from Kurzeme, Latgale, Selonia, Vidzeme, Zemgale, and Riga that have been preserved in museums around the country. They will be gathered in one place for the first time to reflect the history of Latvia over the past hundred years.
More than 60 streets in Latvia have been named for Freedom. The Freedom Street initiative will bring various exciting events to Latvia’s largest cities throughout the year. Among them are the People’s Freedom Run and various excursions and educational events. On May 4 in Riga Brīvības iela, or Freedom Street, will become the central axis of the celebrations with events taking place by the Freedom Monument, at the Esplanade, by the Daile Theatre, at the VEF Culture Centre, and elsewhere around the city.
The city of Jelgava will be holding its Freedom Festival on May 4. The city will be filled with activities of all kinds—a relay race, various exhibitions, and White Tablecloth Day celebrations; the urban sculpture Wheel of Time, dedicated to the centenary will be unveiled and a 60-metre-long piece of graffiti art will be created by local artists. Daugavpils Unity Square will host a group choir and folk dance celebration; a Freedom Bicycle Race will be held in Jūrmala, Liepāja will hold an orienteering competition, and special programmes will take place in Valmiera, Jēkabpils, and elsewhere in Latvia.
According to Aigars Nords, main organiser of the Lattelecom Riga Marathon, the theme of this year’s Centenary Marathon on May 19-20 is “Run through the Festival” and everyone who crosses the finish line will receive a small piece of freedom—a medal depicting Milda, Latvia’s Freedom statue. Juris Kokainis, member of the board for SIA Stipriem Events&Media, stressed that in honour of the Latvian State Centenary this year the Strong Race will include a special obstacle course dedicated to Freedom.
In order to celebrate the Latvian State Centenary not only in Latvia, but also throughout the world, the Latvian Institute together with the association VSK Noskrien invite Latvians and friends of Latvia to participate in the Jog Latvia in the World initiative. According to Aiva Rozenberga, project initiator and director of the Latvian Institute, runners will be able to run routes that have been designed to look like the contours of Latvia in many cities around the world, or they can create their own routes. In this way we can celebrate our freedom at home and abroad. 50 contour routes in 27 countries are already available.
The state centenary flag was symbolically unveiled at the event launch to signal the beginning of the centenary activities as a gift for all municipalities and to bring a festive feeling into every town and city.
The programme of events will continue throughout the month of May. On May 11 the conference Power in Latvia: from Antiquity to the Modern Day will take place at the National Library of Latvia. The goal of the conference is to determine how statehood came to develop in the territory of Latvia. On May 12 the Riga Motor Museum will host the Latvian centenary Youth Action Committee and the Latvian 4H Club forum Springtime for a New Century where young people who have realised or plan to realise projects and events around the theme: I create Latvia! I do Latvia! I AM LATVIA!
The White Tablecloth Celebration tradition in honour of the Restoration of Latvian Independence continues for the third year in a row, and this year there will be a huge celebration to mark the Latvia's Centenary. To demonstrate the scale on which we are able to mark this important milestone of Latvian independence, everyone in Latvia is invited to register the location of their White Tablecloth events with the special digital calendar created in cooperation with the event platform kurp.es. To inspire others and preserve testimonials of the May 4 events for posterity, all celebrants are invited to share their photo and video stories through social media using the hashtags #LV100 and #brīvība.
Register the location of your White Tablecloth event on the digital map: kurpes.lv/baltagaldautasvetki. Or find out about the registered events using the interactive map: kurpes.lv/pasakumi/baltagaldautasvetki.
Created and done by: Various organizers in Latvia and around the world
For information regarding event accessibility for people with disabilities contact the event organiser.