Fun Facts of Latvia: Part I

 

Fun Facts of Latvia: Part I

Before I came here, I didn’t know most people (in Riga at least) spoke Russian, and 2. It’s not a very large country with a large population (not much publicity in international circles). After being here for a while though, I decided to look up some basic historical facts about the country as a whole, and turns out, Latvia is a pretty amazing country. Somehow, Latvia and Latvians have made a lot of contributions to society that go unappreciated. But NO MORE. Below is a list of some of the coolest, raddest and hippest facts, myths and legends I found on Latvia and some cool Latvian natives. And while it’s not complete, most of these gave me a whole newfound appreciation for the country I’m living in.

  1. The Latvian flag is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to the 13th It is said to have originated when a Latvian chief was wrapped in a white sheet after being wounded in battle, whereby the sheet was stained with two red panels of blood with a blank, white stripe between them. Later it was removed from the body during the battle and was used as a battle flag.
  2. Hockey is the country’s #1 sport, but basketball is also very popular (it’s true, Riga held an outdoor basketball tournament just last week on the main street)
  3. Latvia is home to the widest waterfall in Europe: Vantas Rumba, at 110m wide. What it amounts to in width though is lost in its height: it’s only 2m tall…
  4. It’s claimed that a Latvian named Arvīds Blūmentāls, from Dungava, Latvia, was the original inspiration for the movie character Crocodile Dundee. Allegedly this was because he killed around 10,000 crocodiles throughout his life. I’m not sure if that’s true, but most rumors have some truth to them, don’t they?
  5. Ever wonder what those metals disks are at the corner of your jean pockets? They’re called rivets (don’t worry, I had to look this up too), and they’re meant to strengthen the areas in denim pants that endure the most stress, like your pocket corners. Funnily enough, they were introduced by a Latvian tailor by the name of Jacob Davis to Levi Strauss, to enhance the durability of denim clothing. So now you know what the heck those darn things are for…

I think that’s enough for now, but more to come in the future. Look out for Fun Facts of Latvia, Part II.

Mark Kennedy, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Riga

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Posted by Mark Kennedy

Всем Привет! My name is Mark Kennedy, and I’m currently studying Russian at the Liden and Denz Language Center in Riga, Latvia! To say I’m excited to be here is a severe understatement. Currently I'm going into my fourth year at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where I'm enrolled as a dual-degree candidate, earning two degrees in Russian Language and Literature, and French Horn Performance. I started my study of Russian during a two-year mission for my church in St. Petersburg, Russia. Probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done! My language learning started off as kind of a trial by fire: with only 12 weeks of training beforehand, I was thrown into Russia and expected (to attempt, at least) to hold full on conversations with people. In the beginning it wasn’t pretty, but the sink or swim mentality of it all forced me to work hard from the start, and motivated me to really overcome any issues I had quickly. Combined with a personally guided plan of language study and some study materials, I came to love the language and the Russian people a TON! Two years later and I’m still studying it… Outside of Russian language, my French Horn degree keeps me busy. Favorite composer is probably Richard Strauss, and my favorite symphonic work is The Rite of Spring Suite by Stravinsky. (Debussy Piano pieces are my favorite non-symphonic works). I’m also into basically anything arts related: singing, dancing, listening to Maroon 5, drawing Sharpie art, going to art exhibits, going to orchestra concerts, etc. In terms of sports, I was a collegiate rower for the University of Michigan in 2011-2012, when we won the National Champions Team Trophy, and I play Ultimate Frisbee. I’m excited for this opportunity to write for Liden & Denz, and to share my enthusiasm and excitement about Riga and the Russian language!

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