Accepted Paper:

The tradition of May open air religious services in Latgale: from past to present  

Author:

Aigars Lielbārdis (Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art, University of Latvia)

Paper short abstract:

The month of May is the time when prayers and songs are devoted to the Virgin Mary in Latvian Catholic societies, especially in Latgale. In this paper I will provide an analysis of the tradition of May open air religious services carried out in the Eastern part of Latvia.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I will provide an analysis of the tradition of May open air religious services carried out in the Eastern part of Latvia.

Since the very beginnings of Christianity, an important role was given to the Virgin Mary. According to the Roman Catholic Church calendar, May is dedicated to the veneration of the Virgin Mary. Due to her origins as a human, she is an intermediary between people and God, and she is able to influence her son Jesus Christ's decisions.

Since the 19th century the tradition of May open air religious services has been widespread in Catholic societies, mainly in Latgale, in the Eastern part of Latvia. Usually these services are performed in rural environment by womenfolk. Every evening or in the weekends in May, women gather in churches, crossroads, cemeteries or in the centre of village where crucifixes are located. Through songs and prayers devoted to Virgin Mary they also pray for fulfilment of private wishes.

Panel Reli005
The transformation of traditional rituals: imposed change or natural evolution? (Ritual Year SIEF Working Group panel)