Local customs in Latvia: are you planning a little road-trip, or perhaps you’re planning to go on a work placement in Latvia very very soon? It’s a good idea to be aware of a few local customs in Latvia so that you don’t fall too hard for them, and so that you don’t get a big slap in the face if you don’t respect them (unintentionally, of course).

Leave tips

This is the case in most countries around the world. In Latvia, leaving a tip is highly appreciated, especially if you were satisfied with the quality of the service (otherwise you have the right to leave a one-star Google review to express your frustration). The same goes for your driver if you have one for several days, up to 5-6 euros per day.

The Latvian language

Latvian is unfortunately disappearing … piti to piti. Only half of the Latvian population speak Latvian as their mother tongue. If you’re in the East or the West, Latvian will be different from that spoken in the Centre. It is one of the last 2 languages to belong to the Eastern Baltic group of the Indo-European family.

Christmas in Latvia

If you’re doing your work placement in Latvia in winter, when the winter solstice has just passed on 21 December and the days are getting a little longer, then the Latvians are celebrating the return of the sun! In the old days, people used to walk the streets with their faces hidden behind masks of bears, horses, wolves, goats, dwarfs or giants to scare off evil spirits. Today, the trend is to decorate the Christmas tree with a hundred candles, not forgetting to bake delicious ginger cookies.

Amber: “the gold of the Baltic”.

Latvians are so fond and attached to this material that they have named their national choir after it, as well as certain cheeses… Working with amber has been part of Latvian history for generations and generations. It is worked in animal forms, inspired by prehistoric amulets. Modern designers draw inspiration from it in their costumes and ornaments!

The beer

I have the impression that I come back to this aspect often, but beer remains the universal drink par excellence. There was a beer festival between 23 and 28 May 2018 in the city of Riga. Beer, dark or lager, is the national drink! During your internship in Latvia, you will be able to taste Lačpesis, Bruža Nefiltretais, Brengulu Gaišais dark . Aldaris remains the country’s most popular beer!

Last but not least, Latvian gastronomy!

Latvian cuisine is fairly simple. It is inspired by Germanic traditions and Russian influences. It includes lots of dairy products, fish, eggs, potatoes and cereals. Small fish such as herring, sardines and eels will often feature in your dishes. In summer and autumn, Latvians bake all kinds of berry tarts. It’s really good! That’s the end of some Latvian customs and traditions! But there are plenty more for you to discover if you go to do your work placement in Latvia. So, if you’d like to go and do your work placement in Europe, get in touch with us!

Pour les questions plus générales, rendez-vous sur la FAQ des stages à l’étranger de International Horizons.