Mitten tradition at Latvian weddings

Mittens are a very important part of several Latvian traditions. Probably the most popular tradition where Latvians use a lot of ethnographic mittens are weddings.
An ancient Latvian wedding tradition says that unmarried girls have to fill up their hope chests before entering the marriage. It’s an old tradition, that was respected by their mothers and grandmothers, so from early childhood girls were taught to knit, embroider, crochet and sew to be able to fulfill their chests with knits and other handicrafts. Knitted mittens were one of the most important things of the chest and also an indicator of girl’s skills. They represented patience and imagination, because every mitten had to be knitted in a different design using different patterns, otherwise the brides were laughed at. The most lavish chests contained several hundred pairs of hand-knitted mittens. This could not have been done if not the rich and diverse Latvian ethnographic culture. Each pair of mittens has its own story, his own unique pattern and what is most important – each pair of mittens holds his own meaning and comes with it its own wish.
As these mittens were given as a gifts, every girl was trying to do their best and was competing among themselves to create as many as possible creative patterns, color compositions and shades.

Tines exhibition “Latvian mittens” travels around Latvian embassies and museums

A pair of hand-knitted mittens is not only a universal symbol for wintertime happiness and comforts – for Latvians, mittens are much more than a way to warm your hands. Every ethnographic Latvian mitten tells a story, marks an anniversary and represents a specific region in Latvia (Kurzeme, Vidzeme, Zemgale, Latgale). Each pair features a unique design, utilizing a wide variety of traditional colours, patterns and symbols.
Tines company has set up an exhibition “Latvian mittens” with 44 framed 19th century and the end of the 20th century ethnographic mitten copies of all Latvian regions. For 2 years this unique exhibition will tour to different Latvian embassies and various museums around the world. The first embassy, to open this exhibition, was the Latvian Permanent Representation in Brussels, where the exhibition was on display from 13th December to mid-February. After the exhibition moved to the Czech Republic, where first it was on display in Olomouc National History Museum, and afterwards in the Moravian Museum in Brno. Next embassies are in Germany, Kazakhstan and Japan.
For most Latvians, this project is a special source of national pride, because it combines tradition, culture and history that will be enjoyed around the world.