Thursday, July 2, 2009

Flowers, flowers, everywhere

I have noticed ever since coming here that there are flower stands everywhere and people getting off and on bus and tramvalj with bouquets: sometimes a single flower, sometimes a large bouquet. Given the economy here, I've been curious that people have money to buy flowers--and that so many flower stands and shops can afford to stay open. This week I learned the reason behind it. During the Russian occupation, flowers were forbidden. Now, I don't know why anyone would think to impose such a law, nor how it could be enforced, but that's how it was. So, since the Latvian people have regained their independence, they are flower-buying people. The members bring them to baptisms so that each person being baptized (male or female) receives single flowers or small bouquets. It's customary to take flowers when visiting a friend or family member.

It's a lovely tradition and the flower stands are full of very beautiful flowers. This was true in the dead of winter when I arrived, as well as now. The people put fresh flowers on the graves of family members so there are flower stands (plural) at each cemetery.

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