No, they do not actually celebrate Thanksgiving in Latvia. They also don’t celebrate in Sweden or the rest of Europe for that matter. Thanksgiving is American. The Europeans don’t care about the band of religious refugees that shipped-off to a foreign land in the 1600’s and ate dinner with some native peoples. I say too bad for the Europeans; stuffing your face with turkey and watching football is a great way to spend the fourth Thursday in November!
To celebrate our pseudo holiday, DUS and I took a Baltic cruise to the capital of Latvia, Riga. Why Riga you may ask? Because it was cheap (about $40) And who am I to pass up the chance to visit another European country for $40? We boarded the vessel at 4:00pm (in total darkness) and settled in to our cabin. We were kinda excited because our room was “semi-budget” on B deck towards the front of the boat. Pretty fancy. Unfortunately, our good fortunes turned to yet another lesson in budget travel: In stormy weather, higher rooms at the front of the boat make for poor sleeping arrangements… We arrived in Riga the next morning with sea legs and some sleep deprivation.
Our time in Riga was very interesting. In WWII, the country of Latvia was invaded by the USSR and occupied from 1940 – 1991. To put it mildly, the Latvians are kinda upset with the Russians. Rightfully so. We toured the beautiful historic city, visited the major attractions, but most of all we left in a very sober state. 50 years of war and oppression to political freedom and trying to eek-out an existence in the modern world.
Thanksgiving takes on new meaning this year. I’m thankful a wonderful life, family and friends. I’m thankful for food, shelter and education. I am thankful for being an American.