Tuesday, August 21, 2018

So Your Character is From Latvia ... Featuring Anna @ Anna's Little Thing

It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last time's So Your Character is from Bosnia & Herzegovina ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!

Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts is as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.

(None of the Images are Mine)

Hello, my name is Anna.I’m 22.I’m from Latvia. I live 20 km from the capital Riga, in a small town called Jaunolaine. Right now I work in an NGO youth organization and my main hobby is blogging.

What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
Latvia is one of the greenest places on earth. Over half its territory is covered by forest. Everywhere where you look or go you will find a forest or at least lots of trees (even in the center of our capital Riga). And we are really proud of it! One of the things that I feel is unique is how “obsessed” we are with healthy living (as in eating right, fresh and organic). So many people in Latvia have gardens where they grow vegetables and fruits, or even if you don’t have time for a garden the local supermarkets have a wide selection of local and organic foods. 

The biggest celebration in Latvia (even bigger than Christmas and New Year combined) is Jāņi ([jɑːɲi]).Jāņi is an annual Latvian festival celebrating the summer solstice. Although the solstice usually falls on 21 or 22 June, the public holidays—Līgo Day and Jāņi Day—are on 23 and 24 June. The day before Jāņi is known as Līgo Day (formerly known as Zāļu Day). On Jāņi all people travel from the city into the countryside to gather and eat, drink, sing, and celebrate the solstice by observing the ancient folk traditions relating to renewal and fertility. And on the 23/24 June the city, Riga is almost empty because people celebrate in the countryside. Here is one of the folk songs of Jāņi , called "In the Jāņu Night."

In this video, the song is sung at The Latvian Song and Dance Festival (Latvian Vispārējie latviešu Dziesmu un Deju svētki) is one of the largest amateur choral events in the world and an important event in Latvian culture and social life. It is also a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Approximately 30,000 performers altogether participate in the event. Interesting fact, if you are a Latvian from childhood you either go learn folk dances or sing in a Choir.  

Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
We are a Nordic country so It’s cold. Even right now at the end of March we still have snow. The lowest it gets is -28/30 C in the winter and the highest + 35 C in the summer. Mostly we have just 2 weeks of warm weather in summer(sad but true). Latvia has amazing beaches, even the wild beaches are very clean and safe. My favorite places are the ones I have written in my blog post.

Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
Normal Dinner in Latvia is Meat or fish, Potatoes, and green salad.

At Lunch, it’s mainly a two-course meal, the first one being a soup and the second very similar to dinner. In Latvia, there are many dishes and fun stuff you can buy as snacks that you can’t really find anywhere else. One of them being Sieriņi(little cheeses) made from cottage cheese, vanilla and chocolate. That’s a classic one, of course, now you can find them with every flavor imaginable.

Diļļu Čipsi (Dill Chips). Those are really good. If you are in Latvia try those.

 Aukstā Zupa(The cold soup).It’s a summer soup made from Kefir, beetroot, cucumber, dill. Served with boiled egg.

 Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?
One of my favorites are something similar in meaning is to “Go to h***” but we say “Ej Bekot” (Go pick mushrooms) or “Ej Dillēs”(Go in Dill s).When something unexpected happens people can say “Velns pār stenderi”( the devil over the stands) or “Ak tu Dieviņ Tētiņ”(Oh my God my Father).

Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
People go to work /school in the morning(our school starts at 08:30 and every lesson is 40/45 minutes with 5 minute and two 15 minute brakes ). After school(around 15:00) kids have musical schools, dance practices and stuff like that. After work people mostly just go home on a regular work day, on the weekends go with the family to a concert or trip to see grandparents at the country side. 

How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
In Latvia there are 62.0% Latvians, 25.4% Russians, 3.3% Belarusians, 2.2% Ukrainians, 2.1% Poles,1.2% Lithuanians, 4.8% others /unspecified. The official language in Latvia is Latvian(but almost everyone knows at least 2 language’s), but we have a big Russian speaking community here as the aftermath of Soviet Union occupation. Politically the biggest difference is that we don’t elect our own president, our parliament does that (we have a Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic). The big cultural difference from America that I know is we take our shoes off when coming in a house. We don’t like to be spoken to randomly, if you will just come to a person in Latvia on the street saying “Hi, How are you?” the response from them will be “Do I know you?”.

Briefly describe three of your country’s historical events that you feel are important.
This is a great little animated movie about the history of Latvia and why we are how we are.

1.Declaration of independence On 18 November 1918, in Riga, the People's Council of Latvia proclaimed the independence of the new country, with Kārlis Ulmanis becoming the head of the provisional government

2. Occupation of Latvia by Soviet Union
In 1944, when Soviet military advances reached Latvia, heavy fighting took place in Latvia between German and Soviet troops, which ended in another German defeat. In the course of the war, both occupying forces conscripted Latvians into their armies, in this way increasing the loss of the nation's "live resources". In 1944, part of the Latvian territory once more came under Soviet control. The Soviets immediately began to reinstate the Soviet system. Anywhere from 120,000 to as many as 300,000 Latvians took refuge from the Soviet army by fleeing to Germany and Sweden. 

Most sources count 200,000 to 250,000 refugees leaving Latvia, with perhaps as many as 80,000 to 100,000 of them recaptured by the Soviets or, during few months immediately after the end of the war, returned by the West. The Soviets reoccupied the country in 1944–45, and further deportations followed as the country was collectivised and Sovieticised (there is a really good movie about the deportations called The Chronicles of Melanie, The film is based on the real life of Melānija Vanaga)

3. Restoration of Independence in 1991
There was so many things and events leading to as The Singing Revolution, The Baltic Way or Baltic Chain, and of course the Declaration "On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia". More about it I would advise reading here.

What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
The TV Show New Girl, one of the main characters in the past played in the Latvian Basketball team and said how obsessed everyone are with some milk thing and everyone was drinking it. I seriously still don’t know about what was he talking about.

And the next big one that I remember was at the Australian Tv show Miss Fisher (I hope I spelled that correctly). When our national Television put the ad out that today’s episode will be about Latvia we where excited (because the are no representation of Latvians at all) . The Tv show is set in the 1930/40 , so the episode was mainly about Latvian communist /freedom fighter. And God, it was so bad .

Really I expected the language in the show to be very robotic and google translate like, and I would be fine with it (Latvian is one of the hardest language out there)But no…They did’t use Latvian at all, I don’t even know what kind of language they used, but my ears where bleeding . But okay, It’s not the worst part. The worst part where the names of Latvian people….Seriusly I just don’t understand is it that hard to just google stuff like “Native Latvian names” or to use Google translate for the Latvian script. I understand that they didn’t think any Latvians would see or even care, but we saw and we care. 

What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Mostly documental kind of stuff, but really I haven’t seen any movie, book or a TV Show from a non-Latvian author with a good representation of Latvia and the people of Latvia. 

Who are your top three favorite fictional characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?
One of the classics is Lāčplēsis. An epic poem by Andrejs Pumpurs, a Latvian poet, who wrote it between 1872–1887 based on local legends. Lāčplēsis is regarded as the Latvian national epic. The poem recounts the life of the legendary hero Lāčplēsis, chosen by the gods to become a hero of his people.

The other is Vella Kalpi(The Devil’s Servants). Set it 17th century in Latvia, the Swedish and Polish troops occupy the land. The heads of the Riga City Council are ready to return the keys of Riga to any alien power in return for a reward, but three friends Andris, Peteris and Ērmanis, together with their friends, Rūta, Anne and Lēni do not want to allow it and urge the inhabitants of Riga to fight. It’s a comedy with lot’s of fight scenes and iconic songs. One of my favorite movies of all times.

Thank you, Anna, for this very informative post! Come back next week for a post all about Twins!

Are you interested in participating in this project? Check out the tips archive to see which countries have been filled and if you're from a different country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com. I'm especially looking for Cuba, Venezuela, Belarus, Zimbabwe, and Iraq.

Do you have any characters from Latvia? Did this inspire you to write a Latvian character or set a book in Latvia? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Anna? Be sure to thank her!

You may also like:
So Your Character is From Albania ... Featuring Xhorxhina @ Inner Exploration
So Your Character is From Bosnia & Herzegovina ... Featuring Azra @ SimpleSerenity
So Your Character is From Bahrain ... Featuring Marwa @ Adoreabook
So Your Character is From Israel ... Featuring Zoey @ Magiverse
So Your Character is From Mozambique ... Featuring Dicxita @ Dii Blogs

No comments:

Post a Comment