Play traditional Latvian games for Līgo and Jāņi!

On Jāņi (Midsummer) people decorate houses, yards, and themselves. They cook delicious meals, sing their hearts out... and play games. LSM is offering a few examples of these games to try our this Līgo night and Jāņi day!

Goats in the Dew

In the old days, daughters would bathe goats in the Jāņi dew, believing that this will thicken and improve the animal's coat. The daughter's themselves would bathe in dew to ensure their lasting beauty. It was also believed that children who ran on dewy grass on Jāņi could rest assured that no illness would befall them.

The Jāņi mother is standing on one side of the meadow, the goats are “grazing” on the opposite side , and the wolf is hiding somewhere else. The Jāņi mother calls and the goats answer:

-Goats, come home!

-We can't! (in a shaky voice)

-Why can't you?
-There's a wolf in the bushes!

-What's it doing there?

-Gnashing its teeth!

-How sharp are they?

-Like daggers!

-And the eyes?

-As bright as the moon! (The dialogue may be carried on with variations)
-Goats, come home!

Then all the goats run to the Jāņi mother, and the wolf tries to catch them. The caught goats turn into wolves. The last two remaining goats become the Jāņi mother and the wolf in the next game, but can also be elected for each round. (From the “3x9 Jāņi” compilation)

Here We Come!

Participants divide into two groups and create a space for the game by drawing two lines at a 3 meter distance from each other. Each group stands behind one of the lines to clear the space between the lines.

One group thinks up a story, an animal or a thing they could portray. The group can, for example, choose which animal, fictional character, object, or event they are going to portray and then decide on whether the whole group or a single person will be portraying it.

Since the groups will change roles afterwards, the second group can also start thinking of what they are going to depict.

Both groups stand away from the lines and lock elbows with each other. One group will be depicting a thing or an animal, the other will be the catchers.

The groups converse:

The first group, striding towards the line (without crossing it), says: Here we come!

The second group, striding towards the line (without crossing it), says: From where?
While the second group is talking and approaching the line, the first one retreats.

The first group, striding towards the line (without crossing it), says: From Kurzeme (or any other place)
While the first group is talking and approaching the line, the second one retreats.
The second group, striding towards the line (without crossing it), says: What do you bring?

The first group, striding towards the line (without crossing it), says: Velvet and silk
The second group, striding towards the line (without crossing it), says: Show us before its dark!

The first group then steps between the lines and begins to portray what they have decided upon. The second group remains behind the lines and attempts to guess what is being depicted. As soon as the correct answer is given, the first group has to escape behind the lines before the second group is able to catch them. If someone is caught before having crossed the line, he or she has to join the second group.

The players then continue the game, with the other group portraying things or events, and the first one doing the catching.

Jump out, stone!

What you need: A small pebble that can be held in one's palms.

The players sit in a circle, lock elbows with each other and their palms pressed together. The leader of the game has a stone in his pressed palms. He or she goes around, touching the other player's palms, as if passing on the stone. The leader, when making his rounds, has to deposit the stone into another's palms as unnoticeably as possible. 

At the end, the leader of the game says: “Jump out, stone!”

The player, who happens to have the stone in his palms, has to try and get free from the arms of the players next to him or her, and then get to his feet. He becomes the leader.

Squeak, Mouse!

This game is meant for a large group of people.

What you need is a blindfold, music.

One of the players is blindfolded, the music is played, when the music stops, all players freeze and have to be still. The blindfolded player touches one of the players and says: “Squeak, mouse!”

The touched player then has to make a squeaking noise, and the blindfolded player has to guess which of the players this one is. The “mouse” can squeak no more than thrice.

If the blindfolded player fails to guess which player is squeaking, another player is chosen to be blindfolded, the music starts on again, and the game continues.

The game is best played on Jāņi, when you have less frequently seen guests at your house, as this will be a great way of getting to know each other.

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