/ Agnese Mūrniece / Photo story

Blizzard or Thaw

“If a black grouse rumbles in winter, either blizzard or thaw is coming.” (Latvian folk-belief)

Winter is the longest season in Latvia. The first snow can cover the ground already in October and the last one can melt only in April. This has a big impact not only physically but also psychologically, and people have to find the ways to adjust and cope with it. The lives of people in this area are still very closely connected to nature. Also, the folk-wisdom, such as the old pagan beliefs, has been preserved and transferred over generations. Sometimes it is manifested as superstition. There has not been any permanent snow over the last few years; blizzard was quickly followed by thaw. Nevertheless, spring has always had a special place in people’s hearts.

Traditionally, winter was the time for carnival. Nowadays this tradition has almost disappeared because of the changes in lifestyle.

This project was inspired by Latvian folk-beliefs. Here are some of them:

If sparkling ice flakes can be seen in the snow, they are said to be a witch’s bones.

When a lake howls in winter, someone is to drown.

The one who can run naked to the forest and back on the New Year’s eve will live nine lifetimes of a man.

If wolves go howling around houses in winter, there will be war.

If a sleigh is not turned upside down on the Winter Solstice Night, it spends the night running around.

If winter is cold, one must count twelve bald people, and then the weather will turn warm.

During the Metenis festival children are put into sacks and thrown in the snow over a fence so they would sleep until spring and would not have to be fed.

Agnese Mūrniece (1986) has studied photography at the ISSP School. She is inspired by her own observations and experience and is working on various photo projects. With this project she was shortlisted for the FK Portfolio prize.