Dainas are an intricate part of Latvian folklore. A spoken tradition spanning thousands of years, dainas are four-line poems that are frequently put to music as well. Thousands upon thousands of these short verses exist today.
In the late 19th century, Latvian folklorist Krisjanis Barons pioneered a project to collect dainas into one definitive reference. He travelled to all of the small villages of Latvia and spoke with the elderly people, asking them to recount all of the dainas they could remember. From these interviews, he was able to assemble thousands of dainas into one collection.
One such daina describes the pagan celebrations of Easter (Lieldienas, literally translated as "Big Days"):
"Zinu, zinu, bet neteiksu,
Kur Lieldienu zakis gul:
Aiz upites kalnina,
Sika karklu krumina."
Which translates to:
"I know, I know, but I won't say,
Where the Easter bunny sleeps:
Behind the river's hill,
In the small osier's bush."
Note: An osier is a bird.
Most dainas are happy, uplifting little verses that will often give readers or listeners advice on how to live their lives. They also cover practically every aspect of rural life, from celebrations, to farming, to gods and spirits.
Dainas also make up the primary literary source from which Dievturiba, the Latvian pagan religion, draws its beliefs and deities.