It is a frequent stereotype that the Latvians are closed and get to know strangers slowly.
However, when greeting a Latvian, you just say the word lab-dien, which means “good afternoon” you will see the shine in their grayish blue eyes! Showing respect towards the Latvian language, which is one of two Baltic languages from Indo-European language branch, which is still alive, will open the heart of the most reserved Latvian.
Nation which sings
However, some stereotypes about the small Northern nation which lives between its Baltic sisters are true. For example, the fact the Latvians sing a lot. Almost everybody sings: pupils, young people, women and men in their free time after works; the choirs have tens of thousand participants. They gather together regularly, once in four years during the Song Festival; people come there even from the most distant corners of the state and their sonorous voices can be hear in whole Latvia.
In any case, the word music is like a magic wand which can be used in any conversation, in case the interval is longer than you would like to have. It is hard to believe that the state financing for music and culture in whole is considerably decreasing but the musicians and bandmasters, as well as opera singers, choirs, performers and composers from Latvia are gaining more and more victories and clearly show the belonging to the top level artists of the world.
Despite the fact that Latvia is such a small country in the terms of both area and population, we cannot say that in terms of its achievements in culture it is a small and avoidant; the following artists originate from Latvia: world famous painter Marks Rotko from Daugavpils, cinematograph Sergejs Eizenšteins from Riga, English philosopher Isaiah Berlin who was born in Riga and finally the Riga New Theatre with its director Alvis Hermanis; they are really appreciated in Europe.
Historically, it has never been possible for Latvia to become reclusive in terms of language, culture, values and traditions, because of its appealing geographic location: on the coast of the sea, on the road between the East and the West. And nowadays economic and all other means of communications do not recognize any borders! Children of various ethnical origins – Latvians, Russians, Jews and others, who live in Latvia, are adapted to the pace of time and are taught the English language already in kindergarten.
Sometimes it might seem even surprising how trustfully the subsidiaries of Western companies in Latvia follow the standards of their parent companies and corporative traditions when doing business in Latvia. However, sometimes the business culture of national companies, which employ people of various approaches, can be surprising. Here the reference in made to these interesting situations when one can ask the question, without receiving any answer, why the situation in this country is as it is?
The most significant spiritual value of the Latvian nation is the folk songs. They are short, concise, rhythmical, quatrains with impressive language and plot. The folk songs of Latvia are included in the list of UNESCO human oral and non-material culture heritage, although it is practically not possible to translate them in other languages. If it was possible these translations in foreign languages would make it easier to understand what is the driving force for the Baltic people.
Latvians are used to adapt themselves
The question why people leave cities every year at Midsummer Eve on 23rd and 24th of June, why they go to the country, why they stay close to the nature, why they gather flowers in meadows and make wreaths, why they drink foamy beer and meet sunrise keeping fire alive. Also the other question is why people leave the plains of Latvia in winter, why they go to mountains and try to learn skiing at such level, which seems to be possible only for the people living in mountainous areas. And, why women are so beautiful in this country, but in early summer mornings, men are ready to get out of their warm beds and go fishing to the nearest lake?
Most probably it is because the Latvians are used to adapt themselves to various situations. The people in Baltic countries are eager to learn and master everything new, modern, progressive (foreign countries, achievements in techniques and technology and etc.). One the other hand, the people living on the Baltic coast have preserved their proximity to nature which stretches its roots in the history of the nation, and in many cases are too shy to express their self estimate. Sometimes the Latvians are not even sure about their own sense of humor. But, would it be possible for the nation which has experience so many changes of ruling powers to survive without the ability to laugh about themselves? The only matter is that the humor of Northern people is much deeper; it is like a loaf of bread which can be savored only after cutting off the crust.
The pavilion of Latvia in the international exhibition EXPO 2010 demonstrated to the rest of the world that a human being can fly like a bird by using state-of-art technologies. It was almost like an illustration for the old saying: A small knoll can overthrow a big cartful! Or another popular saying: Don’t just a man according to his hat!, i.e., do not estimate on the basis of external parameters!