I want to write another post on my Latvian roots and say a huge thank you to all the wonderful people who have connected to me after my last post “Being Half Latvian“.
I love the outpouring of love, connection and often nostalgia as we all remind ourselves of what makes Latvia so awesome, and how we continue to identify with our Latvian roots. I want to continue writing more about my “Latvian-ness” and continue to share and connect with you my fellow quarter/half/full Latvian readers.
As I was scrolling through the ‘Latvians in Perth’ page, it came to my attention that you can see the Northern Lights in Latvia.WOW! I never realised this. Ofcourse because it is so far north I should have realised but I guess I associate this natural phenomenon with Canada and Iceland and Alaska more so. So there you go, go to Latvia if you want to be wowed by the incredible night sky illumination.
I was so amazed at the number of people who could relate to this feeling of being “Half Latvian”. Raised with a mixture of backgrounds, it is the way of the world these days. We are all a mixture of something these days, I still however feel quite exotic when I say I am half Latvian. Even if at times I feel like a wrestler, or a swimmer, or something hardcore. Latvians have a strength, an inner resilience, and this is something my Dad exuded, and passed to me well.
I was raised in a non-religious way. My Dad and I would sit for hours outside on a bench near the pool, watching the stars rise into the night and talk about life. I loved these times, we were quite philosophical and felt like we could solve all of the worlds problems quite easily if only we had the chance to. It makes me chuckle now, but we really did have some deep conversations.
I remember Dad talking about being raised a “Pagan”. Now this is a more European way of life, praising the elements and being grateful to rain, sun and blessings for crops. It all sounded very magical to me, spiritual and way more fun then the prescribed religion more commonly taught in Australia. Religion still is a hot debate, one I do not want to enter, but Paganism was one astounding and interesting concept coming out of my Latvian upbringing.
I started to brainstorm other things that make me feel Latvian. I came across this image of a mountain of crepe pancakes, YES!! This speaks volumes to me. And this in fact was how the crepes were presented, in this massive stack like form. The more the better right?
Crepes were a delightful part of my childhood and one I remember very fondly. As I was an only child they would only be made on special occasions. On a hot pan with loads of butter, my Dad would slave away and insist on making them all before we could eat them sitting together. Their thin, crispy awesomeness would melt in your mouth and keep you wanting more and more. Adding sprinkles of white sugar and a squeeze of citrus lemon was the perfect way to eat them; but this is debatable.
Each crepe would need to be carefully prepared, with dressings of choice, then rolled neatly and carved politely with knife and fork. Dad would keep piling them up on the plate in front of you, and you would walk away completely stuffed by the end of the sitting. But this is the Latvian way, to eat, eat and eat some more. Perhaps it came from years of starvation during war times? Either way, these delicious pancakes could be consumed in mass quantities.
Being a good Latvian is also about having a positive attitude and demonstrating resilience. My Dad sure did have a lot of resilience in his life to endure the tragedies and hardships he faced. He was only in Australia for a few short years in the early 1950’s and his loving, warm and kind Mum died. On his 21st birthday he buried his Mum and he was an orphan. He never really knew his Dad too much as he was in the Army and I guess this was a taboo topic. I later learned my Grand father fought on the German side of the war, and he later remarried and relocated to England and apparently had more children. So some remote relatives could exist! The details are sketchy and most are likely to be deceased, as my Dad died at the age of 79. Who knows, all avenues previously have led to dead ends, but I will not give up hope in the search for fellow Ozolins out there.
I remember as a child my Dad taking me to visit the ‘Latvian house’ here in Perth. This was a quiet little private place of business selling a few trinkets from Latvia and some home cooked goods. We only visited a few times as it was far from our house and sadly it always seemed very quiet. I remember the woven colourful bookmarks, the Latvian rings and the plethora of amber jewellery. My Dad bought me the woven ring and I was happy. I still have and wear occasional my Latvian rings, and I always feel like a very proud half Latvian when I wear them! I love it when I wear them travelling and people stop me in my tracks exclaiming “Oh are you Latvian?”, well yes, yes I am. I love the way that this little band of silver, is so symbolic, and such an easy way to identify our fellow Latvian brothers and sisters.
I have loved connecting to more Latvians through my blog and I hope you have also enjoyed this article about being Latvian re-living your Latvian roots.
What makes you feel more Latvian? How do you connect to your ancestry? What do you love the most about Latvia?
Thanks, and much love to you all,
(The way my Dad used to call me)