The supposed site of the battle is a quaint field today, Source: Rimantas Lazdynas, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Lithuania and Latvia celebrate Baltic Unity Day

Lithuania and Latvia celebrate Baltic Unity Day

The holiday honours an event when communities from both lands united against the Livonian Crusaders in the 13th century

The Day of Baltic Unity is one of those rare events, which is celebrated by two countries as a display of shared history and fraternity. Every year, since 2000, Latvians and Lithuanians commemorate a historic event, which had united their ancestors in the face of a common threat.

The holiday recalls the Battle of Saule (Šiauliai), which took place in 1236 between the local Samogitian and Semigallian tribes and the invading Livonian Brothers of the Sword knights.

The thing is, back then these tribes were still pagan following their own beliefs and customs – something that was considered outrageous in Medieval (and very religious) Europe. Hence, the crusade had the aim of forcing a conversion of the Baltic peoples to Catholicism.

The battle in question resulted in the decisive victory of the autochthonous inhabitants and even though ultimately the Baltic people were converted to Christianity, it is still remembered and honoured today as an example of native resistance and unity in the face of adversity.

In fact, the battle was decisive enough to help the Samogitians resist conversion for another 150 years.

Promotion of traditional Baltic cultures

The holiday is designed to bring the Baltic peoples together and foster strong ties between Latvia and Lithuania. The Day of Baltic Unity is marked with official receptions, conferences, exhibitions, cultural events, concerts and other appropriate events and activities.

The holiday is used as a platform to demonstrate the folk culture and the pre-Christian customs that have been fairly well preserved among the Baltic people.

Every year, a different city (from either country) takes the helm as the host of the main festivities.

Since 2017, a prize has also been awarded to a person who has done exemplary work in promoting Baltic culture.



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