Looking up

On Monday we marked a sigificant point in the reconstruction of our "renovators delight" by celebrating the traditional "spāres svētki", or roof-beam celebration. Apparently this tradition is not exclusive to Latvia, it is also celebrated in other countries in Europe and the US.
Monday was a fairly cold day, but we had got to the stage where, after many months of preparation, the roof beams were finally completed. I took an old oak wreath from Midsummer's eve (I should have made a huge, fresh, leafy wreath, but all of the leaves are now gone from the trees, and in here wreaths made from pine or spruce needles associate with funerals, so I wasn't going to go there) and the carpenters raised it above the roof on a wooden post. We perched for a while under the beams, me clinging on for dear life, and later climbed down to the second floor to drink homemade honey moonshine and eat freshly baked raisin scrolls, to raise our glasses to the carpenters and the longevity of the roof, and to the peace and harmony of the people who will live beneath it.
This day marked what I hope is a turning point for us with the house. After my last post about the building process, things got a whole lot more desperate. The second storey ended up having to be totally demolished on account of its apalling condition, our rented metal scaffolding was stolen from the building site which ended up costing megabucks, the rainy season started in earnest with days and days of sleet and freezing rain soaking through our roofless building an our backyard full of rotting, sodden wood. I had many moments of gnashing my teeth and wishing I could give the whole property back from whence it came. I have great hopes that with the christening of our new roof structure, things will begin to take more shape and along with that encourage a more positive outlook to the project.
Organising the "spāres svētki" was a pleasant surprise, mostly because it was the builders who insisted we celebrate. It was heartening to see that these young Latvian men, who are modern by every standard, and are fairly scornful of the idea of preserving the old, be so adamant about maintaining this pre-christian custom. They told me that it is considered very poor form if the owner does not stop work to celebrate and treat the builders, and if this happens, builders tend to put up a pair of holey trousers in place of the wreath.
Once the roofing is put on to the beams, the wreath is taken down and put into the attic space, to be kept there for the life of the roof. Let's hope it will be there for a long time to come!





2 Responses so far.

  1. Madeleine says:

    An excellent milestone, and an excellent celebration. Wish I was there for it...

  2. ieva says:

    Ai, nezināju, kam jums nozaga stalažas... Un "spāru" svētki - jums ir daudz spāres, nevis viena! Interesanti būtu izpētīt etimoloģiju - tās jumta spāres noteikti ir saistītas ar kukaiņiem - spārēm (kad viņi izpleš spārnus).

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