Latvian Independence Day commemorates the declaration of independence of the Republic of Latvia on 18 November 1918 after the end of the first world war.
The country remained an independent state until the Second World War, when forces from the Soviet Union occupied the country in June 1940. Latvia Independence Day therefore commemorates a nation’s struggle to retain its lands and identity. The Latvians hadn’t forgotten their 20 years of independence, no matter how short-lived. The yearning for freedom only grew stronger. Under Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet regime went through a revolutionary period of liberalization in the late 1980s. The Latvians seized the day and demanded the restoration of the country’s independence. On August 21, 1991, Latvia, once again, attained complete independence from the Soviet Union.
On 18 November each year, several events take place across country. In Riga, this day is celebrated with an annual parade in the morning and then locals lay flowers at the Freedom Monument. This is an event the President of Latvia takes part in, as well as other prominent government officials.
In the afternoon, the National Armed Forces hold a parade that takes place at the 11th November Embankment. During the evening, once the sun goes down, there are several torchlight processions, and the celebration in the capital city of Riga ends with a spectacular fireworks display over the River Daugava.
Besides the official festivities, families also gather to celebrate this day with a traditional Latvian meal. To finish off this special day, Latvian Maizes Zupa might be the highlight for dessert.