"We are as great as is our will", wrote Latvian playwright Rainis in his 1911 play Indulis and Ārija. The awareness of this simple truth has followed us though an entire century of joy and suffering, destruction and renewal, from the establishment of the Republic of Latvia to the Restoration of Latvian Independence, succinctly expressing the essence of our national will, belief in our strength, and the desire to be free. Today we can also achieve all we believe in. Rainis’ quote was not selected by chance. These words were chosen to accompany the biggest event in the history of modern Latvia.
On 18 November 2018 we will celebrate Latvia’s centenary. We will greet the day with honour and dignity, proud and happy for having prepared a wide range of celebratory events and festivities that will take place from 2017 to 2021. Everyone who calls Latvia home and feels a sense of belonging to this country is invited to participate, regardless of age, occupation, education, mother tongue, or place of residence.
Latvia is created by our thoughts and deeds, through our daily contributions to Latvia’s prosperity. ‘I AM LATVIA’ is the central message of the centenary celebrations, and the participatory theme ‘I create Latvia. I make Latvia’ permeates the many events. This message reminds us that Latvia’s greatest resource is our people; those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom, those who have dedicated their lives to the creation and maintenance of an independent state, create our present reality with the work they do on a daily basis, and, together with the new generation, are laying the foundation for our future.
The centenary celebrations also come into being when we all work together. The celebration program defines the overall goal and guiding message for the celebrations, enumerates the key tasks we must accomplish together, and a number of nationwide events, of centenary extravaganzas, encouraging each and every person living in Latvia to contribute their ingenuity and good deeds as gifts to our nation on its 100th birthday. More than 5 000 people have already shared their ideas in various public discussions, and everyone is invited to add their own ideas, dedicated to Latvia and corresponding with the goals of the celebration, to the open calendar of centenary events on the digital platform www.lv100.lv.
In preparation for a birthday celebration, each of us performs a sort of ritual - we clean house, revisit our memories, thank our parents, invite guests, make ourselves beautiful, and receive gifts from our friends. We will also follow these steps in anticipation of our nation’s birthday. This is a time to honour Latvia’s founding mothers and fathers, to revitalise the lessons of history, and to deepen the understanding of the meaning of statehood and the formation of national identity. We will dedicate a part of the holiday festivities to our friends and neighbours and to the countries that have defended Latvian sovereignty, we will nurture and cultivate Latvia’s natural and cultural spaces, we will weave lasting values into the fabric of our lives, and we will create new gifts for Latvia including sixteen Latvian Films for the Latvian Centenary, a new Latvian National Encyclopaedia, new compositions and performances in all of the Arts, refurbished and new cultural and sports infrastructure, new traditions such as the White Tablecloth Celebration on May 4th, and many others.
Each year of the Latvian Centenary Celebrations has been given a key word in remembrance of the events of 100 years ago, significant to the foundation and continued existence of our great nation.
2017 is the Year of Will.
In 1917 the will of the people, which had evolved over the centuries, was given form.
2018 is the Year of Birth.
1918 was a year of great change, when the new countries of Central and Eastern Europe were created from the ruins of former empires.
2019 is the Year of Courage.
The Republic of Latvia was established, even as the freedom fighters were surrounded by the German-led Baltic Territorial Army and Russia’s Bolshevik troops and in 1919 we won the Latvian War for Independence.
2020 is the Year of Freedom.
Latvians became free, adopted Parliamentary Procedure, and in 1920 elected the Constitutional Assembly and the first Latvian President.
2021 is the Year of Growth.
In 1921 the Republic of Latvia was finally recognised both de jure and de facto and was accepted into the greatest political organisation of the day, the United Nations.