May Services at Outdoor Crosses

The tradition for Catholic services to be held at the outdoor crosses in the eastern regions of Latgale and Augšzeme in Latvia in May are considered to be a joint cultural value together with the Office of the Dead (mirušo oficijs – prayers for the dead). These services by roadside outdoor crosses are a most illuminating example of the Latgalian piety, illustrating their joy of singing and a musical symbol of their sense of belonging to Latgale. The origin of this tradition in Latvia has been narrowed down to around the middle of the 18th century. There is also a possibility this tradition has its origins in the ancient traditions of singing outdoors in spring.