Latvians to strip down for solstice party

June 20th, 2008 - 10:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Riga, June 20 (DPA) Authorities in a Latvian town are encouraging residents to strip naked and run across a downtown bridge as the Baltic nation prepares to celebrate summer solstice. The western town of Kuldiga - population 13,500 - will host the eighth annual naked run across the 18th-century, 150-metre bridge at 3 a.m. (0000 GMT) June 24, marking Latvia’s most popular holiday, Jani.

In another part of the country of 2.3 million people, at the Pedvale Open Air Museum near the town of Sabile, a group of men plans to gather at 4 a.m. for a traditional naked run.

Typically, taking off one’s clothes is not a tradition of Jani celebrations. People generally gather with family and friends in the countryside, sing, drink beer, eat cheese and leap across bonfires.

Kuldiga has been holding the run for the past eight years, drawing dozens of participants of different ages and genders who are ready to bottom out in the wee hours of the morning. More people turn up to watch than to participate.

Police will be on hand in case “puritans” show up in protest, while the runners will be rewarded with beer.

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