What is Lacplesis Day?

Introduction

Lāčplēsis Day (Latvian: Lāčplēša diena) is a memorial day for soldiers who fought for the independence of Latvia.

Background

It is celebrated on 11 November, marking the victory over the West Russian Volunteer Army – a joint Russian-German volunteer force led by the warlord Pavel Bermondt-Avalov – at the 1919 Battle of Riga during the Latvian War of Independence.

A popular Lāčplēsis Day tradition since 1988 has been placing candles by the wall of Riga Castle. Similar candle-lighting ceremonies also take place in other cities, villages and military cemeteries across the country. In 2018 there has been a proposal by Unity and National Alliance to make Lāčplēsis Day a national holiday.

The name of the memorial day is related to Order of Lāčplēsis, which in turn is named for the protagonist of the Latvian national epic poem, Lāčplēsis (directly translates as Bearslayer) written by Andrejs Pumpurs.

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