Latvian mythology

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The Latvian mythology belongs to the Baltic mythology and has many similarities with the Lithuanian mythology on. It is based primarily on the very numerous archaic Latvian song texts of the Dainas , as well as on other genres of Latvian folklore .


From the 13th century until the First World War , the former Livonia was dominated by a Baltic German upper class , which hardly mixed with the indigenous population. The Latvian farmers and fishermen were bound by their status as serfs . Latvian literature has only been around since the Reformation (Beginning of the 16th century) gradually developed by the German authorities, namely by the German pastors, who at best paid no respect to the Latvian “nonsense”, “peasant stories” and “superstitions”, but more often they were hostile and violent when they faced them halfway understood (see witch hunt ). The Latvian dainas, fairy tales and traditions were only passed on orally until the middle of the 19th century. There are few earlier written records, but they show that at least the form of the Dainas had crystallized as early as the 13th century and has not been changed since then.

The almost exclusively oral tradition meant that the content could be changed individually, so that much of the information on Latvian mythology was ultimately based on uncertain sources . On the other hand, the seven centuries of oppression and the strict separation of classes also had a very strong conservative effect - much more so than in the case of the peoples whose elites the way to secular power was open. The cultural identity of the Latvians was hardly influenced by the upper class and their developments. The Dainas in particular have not changed much. Although they have an enormous variety of variants; but the deviations are usually small; often they only concern the order of words or different dialect forms. The core of a Daina becomes even clearer through this variety of variants. If you consider that the Latvian serfs were forbidden to leave the borders of “their” landlord for centuries, such a uniform core of countless songs that are widespread throughout Latvia is a sure sign of their great age. In their customs , the Latvians largely resisted Christianization ; it is markedly pagan and comparatively very well preserved.

With the recording of the Dainas in the middle of the 19th century by Krišjānis barons , the independence movement and nation building of the Latvians began; with the “ Singing Revolution ” 1989–1990 they also succeeded in putting an end to Soviet rule in their country. The German linguist Gotthard Friedrich Stender , who published a Latvian-German dictionary in 1789 , remarked about the Latvians: “No celebration or wedding, no Midsummer or harvest festival, yes, no work, whether in the field or at the spinning wheel at home, happens without singing songs ”, and to this day the Latvian people have a strong love for singing. The Dainas are already taught in kindergarten and school in Latvia. They are part of general Latvian knowledge and are still sung impromptu together on special occasions as well as to pass the time (for example on longer journeys).


Not among the pre-Christian deities, but Christian saints who have been transformed in the folk tradition:


Web links

Commons : Latvian Mythology  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files