We asked community leaders of various ethnic heritages to share some holiday traditions of their culture. Anda Suna Cook said, "
The main Christmas celebration in Latvia is on Christmas Eve. The Christmas tree is decorated with white candles and hand made straw ornaments and presents are placed under the tree. After a church service a family meal of roast pork and sauerkraut with other trimmings is enjoyed before gathering around the Christmas tree. Candles are lit and Christmas carols sung.
Children have been memorizing verses of poetry which they recite in front of the Christmas tree. Presents are distributed.
Another tradition to ensure all misfortunes are left behind, is an outdoor activity of lighting a log (the Yule Log) and pulling it around the house. As it burns, more Christmas carols are sung, and all the troubles waft up with the smoke.
No Christmas is real without the traditional gingerbread cookies and piradzini (Dough crescents filled with finely chopped bacon)."
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation hosted the 74th annual One World Day on August 25, 2019. Police estimates say that over 30,000 people visited the Gardens and attended One World Day. There was a lot of activity in the beautiful and historic Latvian Cultural Garden.
A highlight of One World Day is the Parade of Flags where people in costumes of their heritage carry the flags. This year was undoubtedly the largest and most colorful in memory. It was extra special because all Parade participants joined hands as a commemoration of the Baltic Way 30 years earlier. The Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian units led the Parade after the Baltic Way remembrance.
Honorary Consul of Lithuania Ingrida Bublys was joined on stage by Honorary Consul of Estonia Mary Nippert to describe the Baltic Way that took place 30 years earlier in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
TV news anchor Chris Tanaka, Honorary Consul of Lithuania Ingrida Bublys and Honorary Consul of Estonia Mary Nippert
The marchers in the Parade of Flags at One World Day, led by delegations from the Baltic countries, commemorated this historic event by forming their own human chain joining hands along Martin Luther King Blvd. in Cleveland.
Baltic Way remembered in Cleveland on One World Day
Watch the video and see more pictures of the Cleveland remembrance of the Baltic Way.
Latvian community and Klivlandes Pastalnieki Latvian folk dance at Cleveland Museum of Art
International Cleveland Community Day at the Cleveland Museum of Art is a celebration of the rich diversity of our region’s multiethnic communities, featuring traditional music and dance performances, cultural displays, and ingallery experiences. The Latvian community was well represented with a display table and performance by Klivlandes Pastalnieki.
The next generation
Latvian dance at Cleveland Museum of Art - Klivlandes Pastalnieki
The Cleveland Latvian community was out in full force at the 73rd annual One World Day on the site of the Latvian Cultural Garden. Members of the community marched in the annual Parade of Flags and later there was more fun as members of the Latvian community shared their culture with thousands of visitors on One World Day.
Latvian Cultural Garden on One World Day 2018
Latvian Garden in Parade of Flags at 73rd annual One World Day in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens
Tracing Your Family's Path from a Displaced Persons Camp
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., has created a searchable database of information on the Displaced Persons Camps and the people who passed through them. Earlier this year, the Holocaust Museum partnered with the Ukrainian Museum-Archives in Cleveland to digitize the UMA's extensive collection of DP Camp periodicals produced by Ukrainian refugees from 1945-51. Working with Kyiv-based Archival Data Systems, researchers have scanned more than 75,000 documents archived at the Tremont museum, creating a resource that scholars and others will now be able to access.
Officials from the Holocaust Museum unveiled the new resource and its search tools at a special presentation in Cleveland, a city that resettled thousands of displaced persons. "Solving the Mystery: Tracing Your Family's Path from a Displaced Persons Camp," was presented at the Slovenian National Home.
International Cleveland Community Day at the Cleveland Museum of Art
Since the opening of the Atrium at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the CMA has hosted International Cleveland Community Day. It's a free festival featuring more than 50 groups and organizations that present their rich diversity through music, dance, and cultural displays. The Latvian community was represented.
Latvian Community reps Inara Zariš, Dzintra Kukainis and Ilze Resnis
Baltic Communities remember Senator George Voinovich
Erika Puussaar, a Director of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation and delegate to the Estonian Garden, told how grateful the people of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were to Senator George Voinovich for his work to get the Baltics into NATO.
Maris Mantenieks receives Freedom Award
Judge Ralph Perk Jr., Irene Morrow and Senator George Voinovich presented the American Nationalities Movement of Ohio Freedom Award to Latvian born Maris Mantenieks at the 54th annual Captive Nations Dinner in Cleveland. Mantenieks is a longtime supporter of Latvia and the other Baltic nations and was honored by the president of Latvia for his efforts to get the Baltic States into NATO.
Senator Portman Meets with Cleveland Eastern European Communities
U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) traveled to Ukraine to meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, as well as other government officials. Portman has repeatedly called for increased U.S. military assistance to Ukraine as they continue to face Russian aggression.
Senator Portman and Cleveland Eastern European leaders
Portman also traveled to Latvia to meet with Latvian officials, U.S. troops and discuss the importance of the U.S.-Latvia relationship. Prior to his trip, Portman met with Latvian Ambassador Andris Razans to discuss recent developments in U.S.-Latvian relations.
On Friday, April 17, 2015 Senator Portman, co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, met with members of Eastern European communities in Cleveland to discuss his recent visit to Ukraine and Latvia.
The name "Latvia" originates from the ancient Latgalians, one of four eastern Baltic tribes that formed the ethnic core of the Latvian people (ca. 8th-12th centuries A.D.).
The region subsequently came under the control of Germans, Poles, Swedes, and finally, Russians. A Latvian republic emerged following World War I, but it was annexed by the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US and many other countries.
Latvia reestablished its independence in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Although the last Russian troops left in 1994, the status of the Russian minority (some 30% of the population) remains of concern to Moscow.
Latvia joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.