Latvia's Centenary Programme 2019

01/02/2019

THE YEAR OF HEROISM AND CREATING A NATION

It is very fulfilling to be celebrating the centenary of the founding of our nation, honouring the brave and exceptional personalities who created Latvia, by laying the foundations of the free state in which we are able to live today. 

The beginning of a new century is the time to prepare the groundwork for the next century in a way that future generations will be proudly thankful.

In Latvian, the word for “to be able” (varēt) and “hero” (varonis) come from the same root. To be able or unable is everyone’s own choice, but it’s clear that future Latvia will be built by enablers.

This year is marked by events that proudly look back on the historical events that formed the state of Latvia – the formation of the first government, the Freedom Battles and the formation of the Latvian Army, the creation of local and national institutions as well as the extraordinary event that was “The Baltic Way”.  

Present-day heroes may hide in our daily lives which mean we may not be aware of them. One helps those in difficulties, another writes songs which will inspire future generations. Some invent new drugs. A contemporary hero is anyone who simply does their job for the good of Latvia with pride and commitment, and everyone who chooses not to ignore the painful, uncomfortable and hard, but seeks instead for solutions. What unites them all? They choose to be able.

THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF 2019

The Republic of Latvia was founded at a time when it was besieged by both the German Home Guard and the Bolsheviks. The interests of these forces did not coincide with the interests of the founders of independent Latvia which were to safeguard an independent and democratic state. In this tripartite scenario, the state of Latvia embarked on a decisive mission – the Freedom Battles, or, the War of Independence. In the battle for an independent Latvia, Russian, Jewish, Estonian, Polish and other soldiers of various nationalities fought alongside the Latvian Riflemen.

The symbolic culmination of these battles is the Bermontian Offensive and the liberation of Riga on the 11th of November, although the war continued with the liberation of Latgale from the Bolsheviks concluding in August 1920 when a peace treaty was signed between Latvia and Russia. Thousands of Latvian soldiers and civilians lost their lives. In parallel to the warfare, a civil service, cultural and educational institutions were actively being established. Seventy years later, the nation’s desire for self-determination that had been quashed for almost 50 years culminates, finding self-expression in the “Re-awakening” movement. The Baltic Way, an impressive, articulate manifestation demanding the right to self determination becomes a powerful peaceful message to the world.

THE LATVIAN CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS IN 2019

In 2019 we will celebrate the victrices of the War of Independence and the 30th anniversary of The Baltic Way.  Our institutions – The Latvian National Theatre, The Latvian National Museum of Art, The Jāzeps Vītols ­Latvian Academy of Music, The Latvian National Library, The Latvian National Archive, The University of Latvia and The Latvian National Opera and Ballet, and others, will all celebrate their centenaries. Various initiatives and projects like The Latvian Schoolbag, Latvian Centenary Films, Latvian Literature Export and participation at the London Book Fair, and many others, will continue.

THE RE-INSTATEMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA’S INDEPENDENCE

4th of May, throughout Latvia and all over the world.

The White Tablecloth Celebrations

THE CENTENARY OF THE CĒSIS BATTLES – LATVIA’S VICTORY DAY

Cēsis, 22nd of June 2019

Exhibition – Latvia’s First Year, Film – The Cēsis Battles.

A turning point in Latvia’s history, a military parade and a memorial ceremony by the Victory memorial, a reconstruction of the battle of Cēsis and a musical chronicle 1919. The longest day.

LIEPĀJA – THE SEAT OF LATVIA’S PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT

Liepāja, 27th – 29th June 2019.

Exhibition – Liepāja, Latvia’s Capital, a historical reconstruction of the welcoming of the ship Saratov in Liepāja, a grand concert entitled Delight and Satisfaction, events for children and families, A 100 Years Ago, and the Courland Song Festival.

THE 30TH ANNIVERSAY OF THE BALTIC WAY

23rd of August 2019, throughout Latvia and all over the world.

A series of commemorative events.

CENTENARY OF THE BERMONTIAN OFFESNSIVE

Rīga, Jelgava - November 2019

Exhibition – Soldiers and Wars Through the Twists of Time in Jelgava, a think-tank What is Freedom, an informative tour and the world premiere of the oratorio I am Coming . . .

In the creation of centenary events for the year 2019, we invite you to not only gain historical insight and be inspired by the heroism of the creators of the Latvian state, but also to highlight, evaluate and involve local heroes – key personalities, who can serve as inspiration to others.

Interview local people and organise inspirational meetings with them. Perhaps they seemingly do little in daily life, but in reality, they may be very meaningful to many. Make a commitment with your local community, individuals and groups, to meet weekly, monthly or a few times during the year, to undertake some kind of task that you have been putting off.

Amid the many small steps that will lead to a restored courtyard or a well-maintained roadway, there will certainly be initiatives that will foster the development of fundamental things that will benefit the community at large, laying the groundwork for a better present and future Latvia.

Identify and honour your local heroes. Develop activities that are founded on the participation of the whole community that invite contemporary heroism leading to future deeds. Use the momentum generated by the heightened awareness of the centenary celebrations to defeat inertia, in order to together achieve abandoned goals or create new durable values!

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