Suiti: Latvia's Island of Singers

Courtesy of Suitunovads
Courtesy of Suitunovads
Kasparas Asmonaitis

The Suiti people live in a triangle between Ventspils, Kuldiga, and Liepāja, and their culture fascinates people from all over the world. Living as Catholics surrounded by Lutherans was never easy for the Suiti people, but they stuck to the old traditions, appreciated their ancestors’ heritage, and have preserved their identity throughout the centuries. Sadly, there are only 2,800 Suitis left today, and that’s why UNESCO has recognized their culture as “intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.”

Romantic history of the Suitis

The Suiti people’s history dates back to 1623, when the owner of Alsunga region, Johan Ulrich von Schwerin, re-converted to Catholicism and abandoned Lutheranism. His intentions to convert had nothing to do with religion, however. Johan Ulrich von Schwerin just wanted to marry the love of his life, a Polish court lady named Barbara Konarska, but Barbara’s father refused to give permission for the marriage until Johan Ulrich converted. That’s how the Suiti people were born, and they still remain up until this day, which was never a given. The Suitis faced many problems throughout the centuries, living in Lutheran land while following Catholic traditions, and only their will and loyalty helped them to survive and maintain all of the unique traditions, including their dialect, singing, and folk clothing, to this day.

Courtesy of Suitunovads

Cornerstones of Suiti culture

Today, the remaining 2,800 Suiti people still follow their ancestors’ traditions, including wearing traditional folk clothing. Visitors are always surprised to see women wearing colorful and unique folk dresses, because in most parts of the Baltics, locals no longer follow the old traditions on an everyday basis. However, the main reason why the Suiti people are so unique is their drone singing.

Courtesy of Suitunovads

Drone singing

Every weekend there is a little party in Alsunga, during which locals cook their traditional food and sing together. Suitu Sievas is a band of Alsunga grannies who make sure that singing will never be forgotten by the Suiti people. The entire community, including men and children, join the band, creating a massive drone-based music. However, the Suiti people put a little twist on drone singing with an improvisational rap, during which the singer rhymes about the presence of everyone around him or her. This unique tradition has been carried down through the centuries, and it is extremely important for the Suiti people to preserve it; however, it will not be an easy task as only 2,800 Suitis are left today and globalization has a serious effect on this wonderful, UNESCO-protected culture.

Courtesy of Suitunovads
landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article