Summer Solstice Tradition – Latvian

“During Summer Solstice, it’s like June 23 to the 24, women wear flower crowns—but only non-married women and kids. It represents virginity. If the next morning you don’t have it… something happened. So on the 24th, women are supposed to throw their crowns up on the oak tree and the number of times it falls down are the number of years before you will get married.”

“I think it’s silly. It’s fun but it’s silly. That’s not going to affect how many years I’m going to get married, only really shows my throwing skills. I learned in elementary school and before school from tales and from parents and grandparents. Also from TV a little bit. Officially in school. I think it’s a very important activity; not that it’s going to show future, but really brings the community together. If you’re brace enough to do it, it shows that you care about your culture and tradition.”

The informant is originally from Latvia but has been living in Los Angeles for more than five years. She practices Latvian Neo-Paganism.

Paganism is a religion that is passed down from generation to generation through folklore, and as such it is rich in folk beliefs. The summer solstice is an important time in the cyclic calendar, which Paganism observes. Festivals are often characterized as “not normal time” and as such “new normal” behaviors are practiced and accepted. These behaviors are typically a way of performing identity; in the case of the women throwing their crowns, they are performing their social status.

According to The Watkins Dictionary of Symbols, oak is associated with masculinity (137) while the flower symbolizes femininity (74). Throwing the flower crown on the oak tree is the meeting of the male and the female. Thus it makes sense that when the throws are unsuccessful, it is aligned to another year away from marriage.

Tresidder, Jack. The Watkins Dictionary of Symbols. London: Watkins, 2008. Print.