They hang a bell or a carrot and two onions to their belts. They wear special cone-shaped straw hats. They carry large staffs or walking sticks to make noise. Entering a house, they sing and comment on all the young women in the household and give them mild spankings to provide health and vitality for the next year. They are budēļi – “spirits of fertility” who during the celebration of Meteņi in February go from house to house, from farm to farm, from field to field, performing various rituals along the way, thereby bringing blessings and fertility to the fields, livestock and people.
This ancient Latvian celebration is kindred to Lithuanian užgavenes, Slavic maslenitsa, French Mardi gras, German Fastnacht, and Shrove Tuesday.