In Latvia, the summer solstice is celebrated with a festival marking the longest day of the year.
The festival is called Līgo, or Jāni, and is celebrated June 23 with beer-drinking, bonfires, feasts and wreaths of oak leaves.
The celebration is pre-Christian in origin, and the festivities reflect the Pagan spirit of the ancient Latvians and their ancestors. The beer and cheese represent the hope for strong crops and livestock for the coming year.
The Baltic Times further notes:
"Although the sun sets briefly, it doesn't get completely dark and everyone must be awake to greet the rising sun in the morning. A naked romp into the nearest lake or river is a must for men — and the women who cheer them on. Young couples like to go into the forest and search for the legendary fern blossom. Or so they say. And when you greet the morning sun, you have to wash your face in the grass' morning dew, which on Jani morning is said to have particularly beneficial properties. Ligo is now over, but that means the Song and Dance Festival is upon us."
The festival is also celebrated with Līgo songs.
The word Līgo, pronounced "Leegwa," means "sway," though that definition isn't exactly cut and dried.
The video below captures 15,000 singers, conducted by Ārijs Šķepasts at the 2013 Latvian Song and Dance festival, held since 1873.
The sheer enormity of the choir is hypnotic to the point of making the listener feel intoxicating; like something you might imagine in a dream, or a very old countryside.
It's the perfect song for the lengthening days as we head into summer.
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