Hope your Sunday was just as great as ours.
So, we woke up yesterday (Saturday) wondering what would we do on Sunday. It was snowing like crazy, freezing cold and our place was just so cozy.. We went through some brochures we had here about Riga about sightseeing, the hop on hop off bus, the restaurants and all that and then we found it!
We found this thing called Metenis. But what was it, right?
The Metenis is a celebration, typically Latvian, that preserved the ancient traditions of New Year’s Eve, because ancient Indo-European people celebrated New Year’s Eve in mid-February. This came from the early Latvian word “meti”, which meant turn of time, gauge. The original meaning is preserved in the word “laikmets” (era).
But since they celebrate new year’s eve on the first of January, the tradition is just about doing a farewell to winter and welcoming spring.
We read a few more things about this and here’s what we’ve found out:
The Metenis is similar to what we call Carnaval; It’s during the same time of year (40-44 days before Easter);
People usually dress up for this with all sorts of characters – mostly animal faces, men dress up as women, reapers and witches and some typical dresses. Then there’s a parade from house to house – a ritual known as Kekatas.
The tradition is while Metenis, people slaughter a pig to feed all guests, dancing away the cold (it usually snows in February), play ancient games, drinking the specials and eating – a lot. Then they burn the solstice bonfire and try to drive away the winter. The tradition is that the longer you celebrate, the better the year’s harvest.
Well, since I’m a vegetarian struggling her way to vegan, I’m not okay with the idea of slaughtering the poor pig, but lucky me, in this event was no slaughtering, no blood and such.
But hey, let me tell you guys about our marvelous trip until we got there.
We saw the event on a brochure and then looked it up on Facebook. It was at the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum and we would need to take a bus there.
So it was 11am and we were leaving home – in this huge winter storm – to catch the bus. After struggling with the ticket machine and a lot of wondering about where exactly was the bus station, we got that bus! We paid 1,15€ each for the ticket and I must say: totally worth it. The buses in Riga are all so clean and so organized that we could do a two-hour ride on it! Actually, it took us like 15/20 minutes to get there and it was all good.
Once we got there, we saw the signs to the museum and a lot of people going there, so it was easy. It was snowing like crazy and the snow was by our knees.
By the time we got to the entrance, we showed our student cards and we paid 1,40€ for the ticket. The non-discount tickets were 2,00 (which is cheap).
Entering the Open-Air Museum we saw a beautiful natural park where people can take their kids to have lunch outside. We saw some before-war architecture in churches of all kinds, farms and houses that were brought from different regions: Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, etc.
The actual Metenis
Getting to the center of the party, we followed some people playing accordion in a parade, singing and dancing. They were the actual hosts for this and they were all dressed up in typical clothes and men were dressed up as women as well.
Then we got to this place where people were dancing around and pulled us there. We didn’t understand anything they were saying or singing, but we sure felt the warmth they were transmitting. We dance with small kids, grownups, men, women and all. While we were dancing in the snow, my feet were freezing (like actually freezing) so I had to stop and walk for a bit.
There was a horse who did some trips to younger kids, a lot of places in which you could go in, a honey barn which were making candles and in which we tasted some honey hot drink and a sled dogs skate – if you saw the Cuba Gooding Jr’s movie “Snow Dogs” you’d know how cool is it – suitable just for kids (I think Monica could fit there too though eheh).
There was this place where you could buy food, typical food, they had this awesome cooked and fried potatoes, some sort of stew, loooot of sausages (again, not suitable for vegetarians!), a wonderful-smelling soup and this amazing home-made mayo. So, I took the potatoes with mayo and some latvian bread and Monica took the sausages again with the mayo and the latvian bread. This plate cost us 3,50€ but we had to eat it under falling snow, on foot, which was not the best gourmet experience ever.
We made a brief visit to the museum space and it was snowing a lot, which made the landscape look amazing, so here’s the pictures we took: