Lāčpleša day is celebrated every year in Latvia on the 11th November to commemorate the defeat of Pavel Bermondt-Avalov that took place on this date in 1919 during the Latvian war of independence.
The name Lāčpleša Day comes from the story of Lāčplešis, the Latvian folk hero who was immortalized in literature by the poet Andrejs Pumpurs in the late 19th century. The story of Lāčplēšis (Bear Slayer) is one that is said to have been composed of many local folk tales.
Candles will be lit on the eve of the 11th November all across Latvia and Riga to remember those freedom fighters that fell in the effort to secure the independence of the Latvian state. If you are in Riga head down to the Riga Castle wall to watch locals placing candles by the river front.
Although Latvia had declared its independence on the 18th November 1918, just 7 days after the end of the 1st World War, Latvia fell quickly into a war of independence, with the Latvian State facing the Red Army as well as The White Russian volunteer army with a good few thousand German mercenaries thrown in for good measure. As you can already imagine the result was a bloody conflict that took many lives on both sides and is strongly remembered in Latvian history as a period to be remembered – especially noting that the result was a stabilized Latvian state.
Below is a great InfoGraphic to help you get a better understanding of this period in Latvians History, produced by Latvian Institute. Photos: Latvian War Museum, State Archives of Latvia, Latvian Institute