Latvian name

Latvian names, like in most European cultures, consist of two main elements: the given name (vārds) followed by family name (uzvārds). During the Soviet occupation (1940–1941;1944–1991) the practice of giving a middle name (otrais vārds) was discouraged, but since the restoration of Independence Latvian legislation again allows giving of up to two given names and it has become more common to give a middle name to children.

Latvian male names end in 1st or 2nd declension masculine endings, either -s/-š or -is (with a handful of mostly foreign exceptions ending in indeclinable -o, such as Ivo, Raivo, Gvido, Bruno, Oto and only a couple belonging to the 3rd declension ending in -us, such as Ingus, Mikus, Edžus, Zemgus.) Latvian female names have the feminine 4th or 5th declension endings -a or -e respectively.

For centuries one of the most popular Latvian names has been Jānis, whose written use dates back to 1290.[1] The vocative case is used when addressing someone directly, for example, Jāni for Jānis. The diminutive form is often used to express endearment or when addressing children, for example, addressing Jānis as Jānīt (vocative diminutive).


Writing of Latvian names always conform to the highly phonetic Latvian orthography and in the case of foreign born Latvian nationals or marriages between Latvian women and foreigners (whence they assume the family name of their husband) the foreign names are modified to conform to the phonetic spelling and to acquire the respective case ending. For example, Gerard Depardieu is Žerārs Depardjē, Joaquin Phoenix is Hoakins Fīnikss and Donald Trump is Donalds Tramps.[2]

This has given rise to at least half a dozen lawsuits over the last couple decades, mostly ethnic Russian Latvian nationals not content with addition of case endings as well as a Latvian woman contesting her foreign husband's name being transcribed phonetically in her documents (Mentzen alias Mencena v. Latvia case) where the plaintiffs were turned down as well as legal proceedings by a Latvian couple to allow them to register their child as Otto (instead of Oto) and a claim filed with UN HRC by a Latvian national of Russian-Jewish Leonid Raihman whose claims were upheld.[3]


Before the Christianization of Latvia in 13th century Latvians commonly gave their children names of objects from natural surroundings, such as Irbe (partridge), Lācis (bear), Ieva (cherry tree) and Ābele (apple tree), many of whom later became last names. After the Christianization Latvians began giving their children Christian first names, such as Marija, Anna, and Pēteris. Lutheran priest Christoph Harder also coined a number of new names from Latvian words for different virtues like Dievmīlis (God-lover), Strādulis (hard-worker), Žēlite (sorrowful person), and Skaidrīte (clear person).[1]

Before the emancipation from serfdom (1817 in Courland, 1819 in Vidzeme, 1861 in Latgale) only noblemen, free craftsmen or people living in towns had surnames. Therefore, the oldest Latvian surnames originate from German or Low German, reflecting the dominance of German as an official language in Latvia till the 19th century. Examples: Meijers/Meijere (German: Meier, farm administrator; akin to Mayor), Millers/Millere (German: Müller, miller), Šmits/Šmite (German: Schmidt, smith), Šulcs/Šulca (German: Schulze, constable), Ulmanis (German: Ullmann, a person from Ulm), Godmanis (a God-man), Pētersons (son of Peter). Some Latvian surnames, mainly from Latgale are of Polish or Belorussian origin by changing the final -ski/-cki to -skis/-ckis, -czyk to -čiks or -vich/-wicz to -vičs, such as Sokolovskis/Sokolovska, Baldunčiks/Baldunčika or Ratkevičs/Ratkeviča.

The official records of Latvian names were often variously forcibly assimilated into the foreign culture dominant at times in Latvian lands. For example, local pastors, who were often of German descent, used to issue marriage and birth certificates with Germanized names: e.g., Kalns was written as Berg (both meaning "mountain" in Latvian and German respectively). Sometimes "de-Germanization" produced a slightly different name, e.g., Daugmants was Germanized as Daugmann and then de-Germanized into Daugmanis.[4]

Most Latvian peasants received their surnames in 1826 (in Vidzeme), in 1835 (in Courland), and in 1866 (in Latgale). Diminutives were the most common form of family names. Examples: Kalniņš/Kalniņa (small hill), Bērziņš/Bērziņa (small birch).

During the times when Latvia was part of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, in official usage Latvian names were commonly russified. In particular, it followed the three-part pattern of Russian names: given name, patronymic, family name. Also, the masculine endings of first names were often truncated. For example, poet Imants Ziedonis was officially called Imant Yanovich Ziedonis (Имант Янович Зиедонис[5])

In the 20th century, in particular in the interbellum period of the Latvian national movement and during the Ulmanis authoritarian regime in the late 1930s, when Baltic Germans left Latvia, there was a tendency to change the Germanic names back to their Latvian origins or to adopt Latvian versions.[4] In one such example Minister of Interior Kornēlijs Veitmanis became Kornēlijs Veidnieks.

Name day

Latvia is among the European countries that celebrate name days (vārda dienas), a celebration almost comparable in importance to that of a birthday. Most of them are related to the Saints' days in the Church calendar, but in recent decades new names have been added to the calendar by a special commission. Some names and their name days bear a connection with important holidays, for example, arguably one of the most important holidays, summer solstice, referred to as Jāņi starts on June 23 with Līgo diena (name day for females named Līga) and continues through June 24 or Jāņi – name day for males named Jānis. Similarly Mārtiņi on November 10 coincides with the name day for males named Mārtiņš, Mārcis and Markuss.

Most common Latvian names

Below are the most common ethnic Latvian names in 2006. However taking into account the large Eastern Slavic diaspora (Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians) that make up around one third of Latvia's population, names popular among the Slavic population make it high on this list, for example, the most popular male name in Russia Aleksandr (or Aleksandrs in its Latvian rendition) makes it as the second most common name in Latvia if all ethnicities are counted.[6]

Male names Female names Family names
1 Jānis Anna Bērziņš
2 Andris Kristīne Kalniņš
3 Juris Inese Ozoliņš
4 Edgars Inga Jansons
5 Māris Ilze Ozols
6 Aivars Līga Liepiņš
7 Mārtiņš Dace Krūmiņš
8 Pēteris Anita Balodis
9 Ivars Marija Eglītis
10 Valdis Iveta Pētersons


  1. ^ a b Jacobs, Timothy (February 28, 2002). "Latvian names are more than just Janis". The Baltic Times. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  2. ^ Mawhood, Will (September 23, 2016). "Why You Will Almost Definitely Have to Change Your Name When Speaking Latvian". Deep Baltic. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  3. ^ Naumova, Karina (2014). "Court proceedings on transcription of personal names". Legal aspects of transcription of personal names in the Latvian language (PDF). Riga: Riga Graduate School of Law. pp. 28–39. ISSN 1691-9254.
  4. ^ a b "Latvia as an Independent State", by Alfred Bilmanis, 2008, ISBN 1-4437-2444-0, p. 151
  5. ^ "Imant Yanovich Ziedonis".
  6. ^ "The most popular names" (in Latvian). Apollo. May 25, 2006. Retrieved May 19, 2009.

External links


Abrene may refer to:

Abrene, the town which the town Pytalovo in Pskov Oblast, Russia bore in 1938–1945 when it was a part of Latvia

Abrene County, a historical district in Latvia

Abrene, general Latvian name for the territory of Pytalovsky District in Pskov Oblast, Russia


Iecava is a village on the via Baltica in Iecava municipality, in the Zemgale region of southern Latvia. The village has a population of around 9,500.

Although the village's Latvian name has always been Iecava, internationally it was known by its German name Gross Eckau until the beginning of the 20th century. It was the scene of a victory over Russian forces by Prussian troops fighting for Napoleon during his invasion of the Russian Empire and was also the scene of fighting during the Second World War German retreat from the Soviet Union.

Iecava lies 40 km south of Riga and 23 km north of Bauska and was mentioned in historical documents as early as 1492.

South of the city centre lies a park around the former manor of Count Peter Ludwig von der Pahlen, of which only the foundation walls and some yard buildings remain. The French General Marshal MacDonald, who commanded the Prussian troops who were fighting as part of the Grand Armée, occupied the Gross-Eckau castle during the Napoleonic War with Russia.The church of Iecava dates from the 17th Century but was damaged in various wars and incidents from the Battle at Gross-Eckau 7 July 1812 to the Second World War and a 1972 fire.

Prominent Latvians born there include Friedrich Wilhelm Matisohn (1871-1913) and Arvīds Pelše (1899-1983).

In addition to farming, the town supports manufacturing enterprises including vegetable oil and white spirits.

Jeļena Ostapenko

Jeļena Ostapenko (born 8 June 1997), also known as Aļona Ostapenko, is a professional tennis player from Latvia. On 19 March 2018, she reached her best singles WTA rankings of world No. 5, and she peaked at world No. 32 in the WTA doubles rankings on 19 June 2017.

Ostapenko won the 2017 French Open singles title, becoming the first player from Latvia to win a Grand Slam tournament and the first unseeded player to win the French Open since 1933. In addition to her singles career, she has played as a member of Latvia's Fed Cup team. She has won seven singles and eight doubles titles on the ITF Women's Circuit, and she also won the junior singles event at the 2014 Wimbledon Championships. Ostapenko is known for her highly aggressive playing style, including powerful inside-out groundstrokes and a tendency to aim for the lines.


Jūrkalne is a village in Latvia. It is the centre of a parish of the same name within Ventspils Municipality on the Baltic coast. Its former German name was Feliksberg (Felixberg), but its former Latvian name was Medeņciems (Meddenzeem).Jūrkalne was the birthplace of Abraham Zevi Idelsohn, the Jewish ethnologist and musicologist.


Kurzeme is the Latvian name for Courland, a historical and cultural region of Latvia.

It may also refer to:

Kurzemes guberņa, the Latvian name of Courland Governorate

Kurzeme Planning Region, a planning region of Latvia

Kurzeme Statistical Region, a statistical region of Latvia

Kurzeme Province, a province in Republic of Latvia (1918–1940)

Kurzeme District, Riga, an administrative district of Riga, Latvia

Latvian euro coins

Latvia replaced its previous currency, the lats, with the euro on 1 January 2014, after a European Union (EU) assessment in June 2013 asserted that the country had met all convergence criteria necessary for euro adoption.

The adoption process began 1 May 2004, when Latvia joined the European Union, entering the EU's Economic and Monetary Union. At the start of 2005, the lats was pegged to the euro at Ls 0.702804 = €1, and Latvia joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM ll), four months later on 2 May 2005.


Liva may refer to:

Līva, river in Latvia

Līva, former name of Liepāja

Liva, Estonia, a village in Estonia

Liva (album), a live album by Gåte

Liva, female Latvian name First recorded as a given name of Latvians in 1461. Possibly from Līvija ("Livia"), or a feminine form of the rare medieval name Līvs, from līvs ("Livonian").

Liva, the Arabic alternative name for a sanjak, an Ottoman administrative division

Madara Cosmetics

AS MADARA Cosmetics also known as MÁDARA, is a Latvian manufacturer of organic skin care, hair care and baby care products. The ingredients include biologically certified blossoms and herbal extracts from the Northern and Baltic region. The brand name MADARA is the Latvian name for a common inhabitant of Baltic meadows - Galium mollugo, commonly known as bedstraw or wild madder. Its spatial pattern or fractal is also depicted in logo of MADARA Cosmetics which received the EULDA/WOLDA award and the title "Best of Latvia" in 2007.


Matīss is a Latvian name. Notable people with the name include:

Matīss Akuraters (born 1982), Latvian percussionist

Matīss Burģis (born 1989), Latvian table tennis player

Anrijs Matīss (born 1973), Latvian politician and former Minister for Transport of Latvia


Miķelis is a Latvian male given name. It is also Latvian name of archangel Michael, therefore the celebration of autumn equinox is called Miķeļi in Latvian and Miķelis is named as protector of horses and good harvest, likely taking over functions of Jumis, a fertility deity in Latvian mythology.Persons named Miķelis include:

Miķelis Ežmalis (born 1990), Latvian canoer

Miķelis Krogzemis (1850–1879), Latvian poet

Miķelis Lībietis (born 1992), Latvian tennis player

Miķelis Rēdlihs (born 1984), Latvian ice hockey player

Miķelis Valters (1874–1968), Latvian politician


Miķeļi ([miceʎi]) or Miķeļdiena is a Latvian autumn equinox and annual harvest festival and market. Latvian Miķeļi dainas referred to good and rich husbands as bread fathers, who are associated with the autumn harvest ripening. In different regions, the Miķeļi celebration was also called Mīkaļiem or Mīklāli, but it is also known to other households as Sila Miķelis, Miega Miķelis, and Miega Mača. According to an old calendar, this holiday is celebrated around autumn equinox time (around 21–23 September), when the duration of night is same as the duration of day.

The Latvian name of this holiday is Apjumības or Appļāvības, because this day was the last one when grains could have been harvested. A characteristic Miķeļdiena pagan ritual was finding Jumis, through which farmers sought to ensure the fertility of the fields in the coming year. The Miķeļi's house was considered to be pine forest's sandy soils, since he expressed his protection to gatherers of forest's riches.

Name day

A name day is a tradition in some countries in Europe, Latin America, and Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox countries in general. It consists of celebrating a day of the year that is associated with one's given name. The celebration is similar to a birthday.

The custom originated with the Christian calendar of saints: believers named after a saint would celebrate that saint's feast day, or in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the day of a saint's death. Name days have greater resonance in the Catholic and Orthodox parts of Europe; Protestant churches practice less veneration of saints. In many countries, however, name-day celebrations no longer have connection to explicitly Christian traditions.

Outline of Latvia

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Latvia:

Latvia – sovereign country located in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Latvia is bordered to the north by Estonia (343 km), to the south by Lithuania (588 km), and to the east both by Belarus (141 km) and the Russian Federation (276 km). Across the Baltic Sea to the west lies Sweden. The territory of Latvia covers 64,589 km² and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate.

The Latvians are a Baltic people closely related to the Lithuanians, with the Latvian language sharing many similarities to Lithuanian. Today the Latvians and Lithuanians are the only surviving members of the Baltic peoples and Baltic languages of the Indo-European family. The modern name of Latvia is thought to originate from the ancient Latvian name Latvji, which may have originated from the word Latve which is a name of the river that presumably flowed through what is now eastern Latvia.Latvia is a democratic parliamentary republic and is divided into 26 districts. The capital and largest city is Riga. Latvia has been a member of the United Nations since 17 September 1991, of the European Union since 1 May 2004 and of NATO since 29 March 2004.

Ralfs (given name)

Ralfs is a Latvian masculine given name. Individuals bearing the name Ralfs include:

Ralfs Freibergs (born 1991), Latvian ice hockey player

Ralfs Grīnbergs (born 1995), Latvian ice hockey player

Ralfs Sirmacis (born 1994), Latvian rally driver


Salaspils (pronunciation ; German: Kirchholm, Swedish: Kirkholm, Latin: Kerkolm) is a town in Latvia, the administrative centre of Salaspils Municipality. The town is situated on the northern bank of the Daugava river, 18 kilometers to the south-east of the city of Riga.


Semolina is the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat mainly used in making upma, pasta, and couscous. The word semolina can also refer to sweet dessert made from semolina and milk. The term semolina is also used to designate coarse middlings from other varieties of wheat, and from other grains, such as rice and maize.


Skaidrīte is a Latvian feminine given name. The associated Latvian name day is February 28.


Sīmanis is a Latvian masculine given name. Its name day is 5 January.

Ugandi County

Ugandi (Latin: Ungannia or Ugaunia; Latvian: Ugaunija; Low German: Uggn) was an independent county between the east coast of Lake Võrtsjärv and west coast of Lake Pskov, bordered by Vaiga, Mõhu, Nurmekund, Sakala, Tālava, and The Principality of Pskov. Ugandi had an area of approximately 3000 hides. Ugandi corresponded roughly to the present Estonia's territory of Võru County, Põlva County and half of Tartu County and Valga County, as well as Petseri County.

The county was first mentioned in print by Henry of Livonia After the Northern crusades it became the Bishopric of Dorpat. In Latvian: Igaunija (Ugaunija is the Latvian name for the Ugaunia county) is still the modern national name for Estonia. The name Ugandi is derived by associating "Ugaunia" with the name of Uandimägi Hill near Otepää. An alternate theory proposes that the name "Ugaunia" could have been derived from the Slavic language word "Ug", meaning "South" (cf. Yugoslavia). The power center of Ugandi is believed to have been in the fortified stronghold of Otepää (Ugaunian for "bear's head"; Latin: Caput Ursi, Russian: Medvezh'ya Golova) in present-day Linnamägi Hill in the town of Otepää. The hill is indeed shaped like a head of a bear, thought to have been a holy animal for Ugaunians. Another important Ugaunian stronghold was Tarbatu by the river Emajõgi (literally, "Mother River"). It was erected around 600 AD on the east side of Toome Hill (Toomemägi) in what is today Tartu. Due to its location, Ugandi always bore the brunt of East Slavs' attacks against Chudes, as they called Finnic peoples around their North-Eastern boundaries.

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