Latvians, Lithuanians remember victory over crusaders

September 22 will be celebrated as Baltic Unity Day in Latvia and Lithuania.

The most significant events in Latvia in this regard will be held in Jelgava . Among them will be a conference, various visual art projects, a concert, a crafts market, with an especially warm welcome promised to Lithuanians making the fairly short trip north.

The conference will discuss common distinctive features of Latvian and Lithuanian traditional culture  and an extensive program of events will conclude with the lighting of large-scale fire sculptures.

Other events will be held in Rīga, where fire sculptures will also be torched beside the River Daugava and folk groups from both Latvia and Lithuania will perform.

The September 22 date for Baltic Unity day is chosen in commemoration of the Battle of Šiauliai (Saule in Latvian) in 1236 where pagan tribes defeated the Livonian Sword Brothers, a band of Vatican-sponsored crusaders who were intent upon converting the tribes by any means necessary.

The Baltic tribes resisting forced conversion were led by the Samogitians who decisively defeated the Sword Brothers and in fact held out until 1387 when Lithuania officially converted to Christianity. In an ironic twist, the Pope also begins a three day Baltic tour on September 22. 

Since 2000, the Latvian and Lithuanian Parliaments have proclaimed Baltic Unity Day as an official date on the calendar, with particular emphasis on the close relationship between the two nations.

 

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