Things of Latvia: School Markets

There's a peculiar tradition on Miķeļi (September 29), known in English as Michaelmas, for kids to bring homemade trinkets, food and other things to school for sale. It could be seen as an attempt to instill entrepreneurial spirit among young people, but wherever there are children involved, things are bound to slide off course. 

Anna and Ksenia's passport quest: The oath ceremony

A couple of our colleagues at Latvian Radio and LSM are on their way to becoming Latvian citizens after spending their lives so far as "non citizens" with an "alien passport". Here's the sixth part of their journey towards becoming full-fledged Latvian citizens. Now they describe the oath-giving ceremony after they successfully passed the citizenship exam, along with their feelings during the course of it.

Things of Latvia: Panels With Too Many People On Them

Most of our 'Things of Latvia' are lighthearted observations on national quirks in this, the best of the Baltic states. But this one is different. I write it with a bottle of tranquilizers to hand and according to how things go, I may have to take one, two or possibly the whole lot.

Things of Latvia: No mushrooms

The Latvian love of foraging for wild mushrooms is a matter of record. Indeed, while Latvians like to regard it as a national oddity (treating with barely-concealed disdain the claims of French and Italians to be keen on fungal foraging) the great mushroom hunt is in danger of becoming a cliche.

Things of Latvia: Trolleybus No. 15

The Riga trolleybus route Number 15 is the most famous public transport route in Latvia. It is an abundant source of urban lore and its route reveals the tragic side of Latvian history - to really get to know Riga and Latvia, you have to know the No. 15 trolley. 

Things of Latvia: Dill

A favorite party question of mine to foreigners is: "What do you think is the most popular flavor of potato chip in Latvia?"

Things of Latvia: A colourful pole

One hundred and twenty five kilometers from Riga on the Vidzeme highway, just before the turning for the town of Smiltene is the little 'Jautrais ods' ('Merry mosquito') cafe. The food there is good, fresh and cheap.

Things of Latvia: 'Nu'

Latvian is not the easiest language to learn - at least for English speakers - but it's nice that many visitors to the country do go to the trouble of learning a few words, such as 'Sveiki' (Hello), 'Lūdzu' (Please) and 'Paldies' (Thank you).

Things of Latvia: Latvānis

If April is 'birch month' when every self-respecting Latvian is gulping down gallons of birch juice, July might be regarded as its evil sibling, 'Latvānis month.'

Special Report: Asphalt in Alūksne

Following the publication of our feature about potholes earlier July 14, we were surprised to receive a furious reaction from one reader who accused us of slandering the fair city of Alūksne by using a picture of potholes there that he claims no longer exist.

A Good, Short Day

June 9 marked three years and nine days since A., 17, started living at the Liepāja Orphanage. 

Explainer: How the Saeima works

The Saeima ('a gathering, a meeting, a council') is the Latvian unicameral parliament. It consists of a hundred representatives from across Latvia whose chief function at the parliament is debating and making laws, and the approval of various high officials in their jobs.