This is the other traditional Latvian holiday I was talking about in my previous article. On November 11 in Latvia, it will be Lacplesa Diena or in translation Bearslayer Day. No there are no bear slayings going on so don’t worry the bears in Latvia are all safe and sound. Let me explain about Lacplesa Diena.
The beginnings of this day go back to 1919 when on November 11 the Latvian Army after many days of battle finally freed the capital Riga. The battles then continued until Latvia gained her independence. The most important thing was that the capital city had been freed first and this made Lacplesa Day Latvia’s second most important holiday the first of course being Latvia’s Independence Day which comes on November 18th.
After Riga was freed on November 11, 1919, the Lacplesa Kara Ordenis or the Order of Lacplesis was established. For the first time, this medal was presented on November 11, 1920, to deserving Latvian Army cavaliers. You can see it in the picture above. On this day in 1929, the Latvian Army celebrated its 10th anniversary. Today Lacplesa Diena is considered to be a holiday to honor all Latvian Army soldiers and their triumphs throughout Latvia’s history.
Every year on Lacplesa Day in Riga there is a military parade, torchlight march, flowers will be placed at Latvia’s best-known landmark in the capital The Freedom Monument. wreaths of flowers will be placed on the graves of soldiers in Rigas Bralu Kapi or Riga Brother’s Cemetery and by the monument of Pulkvedis Oskars Kalpaks. Oskars Kalpaks was the commander of the 1st Latvian Independent Battalion. He died in combat with German Freikorps troops on March 6, 1919, at the age of 37. Posthumously he received Latvia’s highest military award, the Order of Lacplesis – first, second and third class. All through the day, there are various concerts, cultural events, and special church services.
The Freedom Monument