Philadelphia Celebrates Baltic State Centennial

By Jessica Sklar for the Global Philadelphia Association 


February 2018 marks the important 100th anniversary of the Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania - gaining their statehood. This Centennial marks the anniversary of these three countries declaring their independence and statehood, and is a time of celebration and is a time for the citizens of these three countries to honor their culture and heritage.

Different celebrations around Philadelphia were conducted to commemorate this milestone. Krista Butyvdas Bard, the Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Lithuania, collaborated with Daiva Kazlauskas, President of the Lithuanian American Community of Philadelphia for a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Restoration of Lithuanian Statehood. Held at Philadelphia’s City Hall, the ceremony honored Lithuanian culture. There was a ceremonial flag-raising along with singing of both U.S. and Lithuanian national anthems. Official comments were given in the Mayor’s Reception Room where the guests were presented with a City Proclamation and Governor’s Congratulations. The afternoon ended with a luncheon in Conversation Hall. Lithuanian customs were highlighted as Lithuanian residents of Philadelphia wore traditional folk costumes and performed Lap Harp music.

Lithuanian Philadelphians will also be celebrating on March 10th with a gala celebration presented by the Lithuanian American Community and the Lithuanian Music Hall. This event will feature a full night of dinner, cultural programs, choir performances, and dancing. It is a way to honor the important 100th anniversary.

The 100th anniversaries of Latvian and Estonia statehood have their own Philadelphia celebrations going on as well.  Led by John J. Medveckis, the Honorary Consul of Latvia in Philadelphia works to facilitate Latvian-American interests in the greater Philadelphia area. In honor of the 100th year of Latvia’s independence, the Honorary Consul dedicated a billboard commemorating the anniversary on the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76). This is one of the most traveled highways in the region and is sure to increase the profile of Latvia in the region, as well as give some small background of Latvia’s history to Philadelphians.

The Estonian concert agency Eesti Kontsert and the Consulate General of Estonia in New York City is celebrating Estonia’s 100th anniversary by introducing the Philadelphia Recital Debut of two lauded Estonian artists. This free event features Sten Heinoja on the piano and Theodor Sink playing guitar.

Each Baltic country has a World Heritage City, demonstrating the historical and cultural importance of the region. The cities of Philadelphia, Vilnius, Tallinn, and Riga all share World Heritage City status, marking their similar deep cultural roots. This makes it deeply fitting that so many Baltic State commemorative events are being held around Philadelphia, marking the important anniversary.