Latvia declared a national holiday to celebrate their ice hockey team’s bronze medal victory at the world championships, which they co-hosted with Finland in May 2023. Ice hockey is hugely popular in Latvia, and the 4-3 overtime victory over the United States for the bronze medal was greeted with jubilation. A plane bringing the team home from Finland flew at low altitude over central Riga on Monday to greet thousands of fans who had gathered to welcome the squad.
At quarter to midnight on Sunday, members of parliament, sporting red-and-white national team jerseys, convened for a 10-minute session to unanimously declare the holiday. It was “to strengthen the fact of significant success of Latvian athletes in the social memory of the society,” according to the bill’s sponsors. The bill was introduced by a smiling member of parliament with her face painted in the colors of the national flag. Another giggled while trying to read out the names of absent parliamentarians, to laughter from many in the hall. There was an ovation from everyone present after the final vote.
But as dawn broke, there was confusion about who was working and who was not. Court hearings were canceled and schools and universities were closed, but national exams for high school students went ahead, with staff paid at holiday rates. Several hospitals chose to stay open to honor doctor appointments. Businesses found themselves in some disarray, with Aigars Rostovskis, the president of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, telling public broadcaster LSM: “It will be chaos for many.”
The ice hockey team’s victory was a significant achievement for Latvia, a small country in northeastern Europe. The co-hosting of the world championships with Finland was a big opportunity to showcase Latvia’s passion for the sport and its ability to stage world-class events. The success of the national team generated a lot of interest and excitement in the country, and the national holiday declared by the parliament was a fitting tribute to the team’s hard work and dedication.
The victory was also a boost to the sport of ice hockey in Latvia, which has a rich tradition in the sport despite its small size. Many young Latvians dream of playing ice hockey professionally, and the national team’s success at the world championships was a source of inspiration for them. The sport also has a positive impact on the country’s economy, as it generates revenue from ticket sales, merchandise, and tourism.
The Latvian ice hockey team’s bronze medal victory at the world championships was a significant moment for the country, and one that was appropriately celebrated with a national holiday. The sport of ice hockey is central to Latvia’s identity, and the team’s success was a source of national pride. The national holiday was a mark of respect for the team’s hard work and dedication, and a reminder of the power of sport to unite people and generate positivity.