Beloved Latvian author and poet Imants Ziedonis wrote: “Latvians go out in to the world wearing patterned mittens and throw them into the treasure chest of cultures along with Persian rugs, Indian and Japanese silks, Chinese porcelain, and Russian woodcuts…”
Don’t forget to take your mittens with you to Imanta’s Latvia 100 celebration on November 17th!!
The 100th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia will be celebrated in Riga, throughout Latvia, and around the world on November 18th, 2018 with a wide programme of events. Wear a pair of beautiful Latvian mittens, send warm greetings to your friends, and post on social media using the hashtag #LV100.
Latvian mittens are a timeless classic—they also tell the history of Latvia because they have been used in battle by Latvian Riflemen, have travelled to Siberia in exile, and are still used here in Latvia. The patterns and colour combinations of Latvian mittens are endless, but each region of Latvia has its characteristic colours: in Kurzeme—white, grey, red and violet; in Latgale—red, yellow, green and white; in Vidzeme—white, grey, and light brown or green; and, in Zemgale—variations of green and brown tones.
Rich traditions of knitting, wearing, and giving the gift of mittens has developed in Latvia over the course of many centuries. The mitten is not only a common household item, but also a ritual object Latvians give to one another in celebration of life’s most meaningful events—baptisms, weddings, and funerals; as a show of good will; and to symbolise that an agreement has been made. For centuries, master-knitters have encoded the ancient knowledge of our ancestors into their mittens by knitting symbols of power—the Sun, one of the many Latvian Cross symbols, the Morning Star, the Serpent. Mittens not only provided the wearer with warmth and beauty, but also gave protection. Many other symbols, such as “pigs’ eyes”, “nut clusters”, “bees’ wings”, “crows’ feet”, and “hawks’ claws”, were also knitted into these patterns.