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Latvian parliamentarians in their country's ice hockey jerseys

Photo: Latvian Parliament / REUTERS

In order for the Members of a Parliament to meet for an extraordinary session, a lot has to happen. But that was exactly the case on Sunday evening in the Latvian Saeima in Riga. The reason was events in Finland. There, the national team of Latvia had previously sensationally defeated the supposedly overpowering USA at the Ice Hockey World Championships, 4:3 after extra time. It was the first medal in this field for the former Soviet state, after more than three decades of independence. The World Cup tournament was also hosted by the country together with the Finns.

The bronze triumph of their own team, in turn, prompted the Saeima deputies to make a spontaneous decision: A new holiday was inserted into Article 1 of the law "On Holidays, Commemorations and Commemorations": The "Day of the Bronze Medal of the Latvian Ice Hockey Team at the Ice Hockey World Championship 2023" - to be celebrated on Monday. It is considered a "duty to anchor the fact that Latvian athletes have achieved significant success at the 2023 Hockey World Cup in the social memory of society," according to the explanatory memorandum to the text of the law.

The decision, it is said, was taken with 52 votes in favour and three abstentions. In total, the Saeima has 100 members. Many of the deputies present on Sunday would have worn the red and white jerseys of the Latvian team. Faces made up in the national colors were also visible. The final decision was made at 23:56 p.m. – four minutes before the start of the holiday.

One-night stand

Ice hockey is considered the national sport of the country. The problem was that not all Latvians had apparently learned of the results of the ten-minute night session in time. Therefore, there was some confusion on Monday: "It will be chaos for many," the president of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Aigars Rostovskis, told public broadcaster LSM.

Courts had closed on Monday, schools and universities as well – but already scheduled exams should take place. Thousands of people welcomed the ice hockey team, which had arrived by plane from Tampere, Finland, back to Riga.

For next year, Latvians need to know: This year's holiday was an exception, and from next year it will be necessary to work regularly again on May 29.