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Traditional Midsummer cheese wins EU protection

Jāņu siers - literally, Midsummer cheese, a sort of sour-milk cheese usually tied in a round shape not unlike that of the hockey puck, - has been granted the entry to the EC's Traditional Speciality Guaranteed register, reported the EC Tuesday.

Jāņu siers is fresh sour-milk cheese produced from milk and curds using a traditional method of preparation unchanged for centuries. The cheese eaten during the summer solstice celebrations, a Latvian festival called Jāņi. This denomination will be added to the list of over 1,300 products that are already protected. 

The registry entry of the product goes on to describe the history of Jāņu siers and describe its unique characteristics.

It says, for example that "The soft, well-bound, slightly elastic and homogeneous consistency and mild flavour of ‘Jāņu siers’ are the result of skills developed over many years."

The entry also details the symbolic dimensions of the Jāņu cheese.

"The round shape of ‘Jāņu siers’ is significant and symbolic. Round-shaped foods are usually eaten at the time of the summer solstice as a symbolic representation of the sun. Likewise, the shape and colour of ‘Jāņu siers’ is associated with the symbolic representation of the sun," reads the entry.

"At summer solstice feasts, ‘Jāņu siers’ embodied both the creative energy of the sun and the plentiful and successful yield of dairy products. The roundness of ‘Jāņu siers’ symbolises the sun and the world; by cutting the cheese into pieces, each person takes a part of the sun's energy," went on the entry.

In short, the entry concludes, Jāņu siers is a prominent and popular symbol of the cultural identity which Latvia presents to other countries. 

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