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Latvians celebrate ''Meteņi''

 RIGA, Feb 16 - In February, Latvians celebrate one of their traditional calendar festivals ''Meteņi'' – a celebration dedicated to bidding farewell to the winter and welcoming the spring. Special folk songs are sung on this day, with people going out in merry song and dance to greet friends and neighbors.

Together with local folklore groups, ''Meteņi'' is celebrated in many Latvian towns and villages. The festival is also celebrated each year at the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum near Riga, as well as the Turaida Castle Complex and Museum near Sigulda.

As in many other traditional Latvian celebrations, people dress in national costume during ''Meteņi'', however, masks are also worn during the festive procession.

One of the most important rituals during ''Meteņi'' is taking a ride – either on a sled, a horse drawn carriage, or even skating on a pond. According to belief, people must take a ride on ''Meteņi'' in order to ensure a good harvest.

''Meteņi'' usually falls in February, on the seventh Tuesday before Easter. However, in modern times, ''Meteņi'' is usually celebrated on the weekend.

''Meteņi'' this year will be celebrated at the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum on February 17 from noon. As the celebration’s organizers inform - "During ''Meteņi'', we will go from house to house in a merry song and dance, take rides on sleds and horse drawn carriages, and even have dog sleds available".

Another ''Meteņi'' celebration will take at the Turaida Castle Complex and Museum near Sigulda on Saturday, February 23.
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