November 11 – Lāčplēsis Day in Latvia

Posted on November 11, 2014

A lot of nations celebrate patriotic holidays today, because on this date in 1918, a long war ended.

And it was a “world war” (WWI, to be exact), so a lot of nations were involved.

That's why today is celebrated as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day in at least 20 nations.

But Latvia isn't celebrating the end of World War I today. Instead, this nation is commemorating a victory over the Bermontians in 1919.

Don't you hate it when the promise of “no more wars, ever” is broken just a few months later? During the Russian Civil War of 1918-1920, the West Russian Volunteer Army (the Bermontians) attacked the newly independent Baltic nations of Latvia and Lithuania. The Latvians were able to push back. (Of course, it wasn't very many years before the start of World War II, when Latvia was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, then invaded by Nazi Germany, and then freed from the Nazis by Soviet troops—only to be forced again into the USSR!)

Here are a few of my favorite Latvian things:

This Freedom Monument in Latvia's capital, Riga, somehow survived WWI and the Soviet era.

The widest waterfall in Europe, Ventas Rumba, is in Latvia. It is 249 m (817 ft) wide, and only about 2 m (6 ft) wide.

Latvia's flag

The Latvian flag is remarkably similar to Austria's flag – and they even have similar origin stories about a leader wrapped in a white sheet in battle—but the sheet being almost entirely reddened by his blood.

Austria's flag
Actually, the Latvian flag is one of the oldest in the world, having been in use waaaaayyy back in the 1200s.

A famous Latvian food is bacon turnovers. Yumm...

Also on this date:

Veteran's Day – also known as 

National Young Reader's Day / Week 

Anniversary of a record-breaking balloon ride

Independence Days in Angola and Poland 

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