Lithuania is a small piece of land at the Baltic Sea in the geographical centre of Europe. On the map of Europe Lithuania can hardly catch your attention, because its area is only 65,000 sq. km. The borders of our country stretch for more than 1800 km. In the North it borders Latvia, in the East and in the South Belorussia, in the South – West Poland and the Kaliningrad Region of the Russian Federation. The amber coastline with beautiful whitish beaches stretches foor 99 km of the country’s West failor. The failor is decorated by Kuršiai spit dunes, Sudūva high-yielding fields, Dzūkija lakes, wide plains, melancholy forests, pine-trees on a sandy soil. You may observe a carpet of fields spotted with blue lakes, wrinkled hills and sites of ancient towns so sweet to everybody’s glance and heart. Hidden villages, small towns and cities cling close to rivers, lakes. The Eastern Aukštaitija is the land lovely created by nature. It’s the kingdom of lakes annd woods. In Lithuania there are over 4,000 lakes, ponds and more than 700 rivers. The longest river is the Nemunas. It’s called the father of Lithuanian rivers. There are many songs about the Nemunas. The other longest river is the Neris. It
A lot of tourists, who find our republic themselves, want to know it better.
Lithuania’s past is rich and marked by complexity. In the multitude of events, and their uniqueness and effect on neighbouring nations, Lithuania can be compared to any large state. Perhaps, this is the reason why Lithuanians hold their history in great esteem. A Lithuanian engaged in an explanation of the present will often digress into historical comparisons and analogies. The le
Principal climatic features of Lithuania are determined by interaction of solar radiation and atmosphere circulation with lower layer. Average amount of sunshine annually received by the territory of Lithuania is 85 kkal/cm2 or 3370 MJ/m2. Average annual radiation balance is equal to 37 kkal/cm2, average annual air temperature is about +6oC and average annual precipitation level is 620 mm. Seasonal fluctuations of radiation balance are reflected by average monthly temperature (from –3 . –6oC in January to +16.5 . + 17.5oC in July) and precipitation level (from 25 – 40 mm in March – April to 70 – 100 mm in July – August).
Average climatic differences are determined by both continental and oceanic factors. Annual range of average monthly temperatures, the further from the Baltic sea, goes up from 18 to 24oC. Continental air masses changing the sea air masses, diversified with arctic and subtropical air mass invasion, are the cause of short-term temperature and wind regime fluctuations. Average daily temperature fluctuation in Lithuania ra
Climate formation processes are in major extent fed by solar energy.
Circulation conditions are determined by cyclones and anti – cyclones in Lithuania. Calculations showed that the territory of Lithuania annually is effected by cyclones for 95 days and by anti – cyclones for 117 days in average.
The effect made by relief is most powerful in summer, by the sea – in winter. Temperature distribution according to longitude is most conspicuous in spring and autumn. Under the effect of relief, temperature sums in ravines and northern slopes are lower and in southern slopes are higher by 50-100oC.
Cultivation of plants grown under warm conditions is restricted by the dates of the last spring and early autumn frosts.
Soil temperature, apart from the causes mentioned above, also depends on granulometric soil composition and dampness. Deeper frozen ground is characteristic to dry and sandy loam soils, however, they thaw off earlier than damp clay loam soils. At the beginning of winter, frozen ground area is moving from the East to the West, the time difference being over 20 days. In spring, soil thaws off from the So
Distribution of precipitation in different months is determined by the distance from the sea as well as highland exposure to humid winds. Precipitation is more abundant on the side of highlands facing the wind and more scarce in places sheltered from the wind. In summer precipitation level is higher in the eastern and in winter – in the western part of Lithuania. Maximum monthly precipitation level is higher than the average equal to 220 – 240%. Precipitation in liquid form makes up 75 %, in solid and mixed form – 25% of the annual level.
In average, the snow layer is present from the third decade of December to March. The layer may be up to 5 cm thick in the West and 20 – 25 cm in the North East. It thaws off in the third decade of March. Deviations of +/- 30 days are possible in individual years. In the forest, the snow layer is thicker by 120 – 130%, in glades – by up to 150%, than in the open field, where the snow is drifted in blizzards. The number of blizzards ranges from 10 in the West to 25 in the East. The snow layer may be temporarily destroyed during thaws.
Water vapour resilience ranges from 4,0 – 4,5 hPa (in January) to 14,2 – 15,1 hPa (in July). The further from the sea, the lower the value. In spring and in summer it also decreases the higher the area.
The change of relative humidity is in inverse proportion with air temperature fluctuation.
Annual evaporation ranges from 520 mm in highlands to 580 mm at the sea side. Evaporation during the vegetation period is equal to 390 – 420 mm. Local deviations from these values due to soil dampness and relief differences do not exceed +/- 50 mm.
Wind regime depends on pressure gradients in active sections. The prevailing wind direction depends on the season. Frequency of the prevailing winds blowing from the South West and South amounts to 25 – 30% in autumn and winter. In spring, the South wind is less frequent and the North West wind prevails. In summer western winds are dominant. At the sea-side, breezes that may change their direction throughout the day are met. Average annual wind speed at the Baltic coast is equal to 5,5 – 6,0 m/s, the further from the sea, the speed decreases down to 3,0 – 3,5 m/s. In summer, average wind speed is lower by 1 – 2 m/s than in winter. The frequency of stillness ranges from 0,5 – 11% (in January) to 1-18% (in July). In different areas, the wind highly depends on the degree of horizon openness. On top of hills or in slopes facing the wind, the wind speed is higher by 20 – 30% than in plains, meanwhile, in ravines and slopes sheltered from the wind it is as much lower. The wind speed changes during the day and during the year. The highest annual speed amounts to 16 – 20 m/s, at the sea-side it goes up to 22 – 26 m/s. The wind speed of 20 – 26 m/s (27 – 35 m/s at the sea-side) is possible once in 20 years. At the sea-side, the number of days of strong wind (> 15 m/s) amounts to 20 – 30, further from the sea, it goes down to 5 – 10 days per year.
Furthermore, I would like to add that the capital city of Vilnius cannot in any way have evolved apart from Lithuania. Vilnius is a Lithuanian city–being nearly 50% Lithuanian, as reported in LIETUVOS TSR ATLASAS (Lithuanian SSR Altas, Moscow, 1981). Only the environs of the Vilnius region and Salcininkai county are predominantly Polish. But what does Poland care about an isolated, non-contiguous language island? Does anyone again propose that Belarus invade and occupy eastern Lithuania? Historically, Grodno (Gardinas) was part of historical Lithuania. Perhaps Lithuania should expand again south across the Nemunas (Niemen) River?
In closing, historians will point out that ancient Baltic tribes occupied vast areas before the twelth century that today are Slavic. And until the 19th century, Lithuanians were native to the Vilnius region. No Polish colonization had ever taken place in Lithuania except for the period of Poland’s rule over eastern Lithuania from 1920-1939, when settlers were brought in. The history of the Vilnius area was always a part of the ancient Lithuanian state. Vilnius was in the heart of the Aukstaitija (Highland) area, the cradle of the Lithuanian state. It was the Lithuanian Grand Duke, Gediminas (1275-1341), who founded the new capital in 1323.
They say that a Lithuanian can be most easily recognised while working or day-dreaming. The foundations of the nation’s character were laid in ancient times, and were determined by the ecology, geographic location, politics, work characteristics and religious holidays. Lithunians should not be grouped among the dynamic or particularly expressive nations: traditionally, they are more inclined towards reserve, the family hearth and stubborn labour. Historically, Lithuanians are a nation of tillers of the soil, who have lived near the sea, but not along with it. Mythology reveals that the country is divided into three cultural regions, whose interrelationship is reminiscent of a tree: in the west one finds the roots, in the middle of Lithuania the trunk, and in the east, the branches. To the present day, Lithuania has preserved its previously-mentioned four ethnic groups. Each of them differs in its customs, clothing and songs, and in character as well. The dzukai, who live in the southeast, are the most expressive, the Zemaiciai, in the west, are the most reserved and most archaic. Earlier, this trait of the Zemaiciai had been to a large extent given mythological dimensions and even attributed to the entire Lithuanian nation by the neighbouring nations, particularly the Poles and the Germans. A romantic story, Lokys (“The Bear”) by the French author Prosper Mйrimйe, set in superstitious and archaic Zemaitija (Samogitia), became widely known in 19th century Europe.
Natural disasters and wars and epidemics have tempered the “average” Lithuanian, no less than the north and the sea have tempered the “average” Scandinavian. Furthermore, one should not forget that Lithuanians were the last pagans in Europe, who officially embraced Christianity only at the end of the 14th century. Moreover, even in modern times, there exists an extremely emotional element in many religious customs.
The Lithuanian character also possesses the spontaneity characteristic of the European Slavs, and at times, even some irrationality. Most probably, our ancestors acquired these character traits during the Middle Ages, when they had to defend the land against various invaders from the west, and later from the east as well. The Lithuanians themselves also used to follow a warlike path.
In accepting the mass culture of the west, the people of modern Lithuania are also experiencing the pitfalls of excessively speedy modernisation.
The Lithuanian smile
God did not give a smile to states, however, people are smiling.
The people of Lithuania believe that their country is one of the most hospitable small corners of the world. They believe that and so they are smiling.
The Lithuanian language is one of the most archaic in Europe. Hearing our language for the first time, foreigners frequently say it sounds as if it were being chanted, not spoken. It has a clear and mobile musical stress, whereas the stress in many European languages is dynamic. Latvian, Serbo-Croatian and Slovenian resemble Lithuanian in their musical quality.
Lithuanian is a representative of the Baltic group of the Indo-European languages. Currently, only Latvian is closely related to it. Prussian, a member of the same family, disappeared along with the Prussian community, which had inhabited its own territory, the present day Kaliningrad Region, which was conquered by the Teutonic Orders during the Middle Ages and subsequently germanised.
The four ethnic groups of Lithuanians have preserved their dialects, which differ in their phonetic, morphological and syntactic features, and even in vocabulary.
Standard Lithuanian was formed on the basis of Latin vocabulary. This was a lengthy process, beginning in the 16th century. It was, during that period that the first Lithuanian books appeared in print. Due to historical causes and an unfavourable political destiny, the formation of a standard language continued for several centuries and was completed only during the first part of the 20th century. The Lithuanian alphabet contains 32 letters and there are six cases.
It is claimed at times that Lithuanian is descended from Sanskrit. This hypothesis finds a sizeable number of supporters.
Lithuania is a country dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. Over 80% of the population consider themselves Catholics.
The conversion of Lithuania is officially considered to have taken place in 1387, when Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, having become King of Poland, christianized the country in accordance with the sacraments of Roman Catholicism, together with Vytautas, another Grand Duke of the Gediminas Dynasty. The name of Vytautas is mentioned in connection with the Moslem religion brought by the Tatars, who served in his army, and also the religion of the Karaims.
Total religious tolerance prevailed within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Not only were orthodox churches and mosques constructed, but Jewish synagogues as well; Jews began to settle in Lithuania as early as the 15th century.
Calvinism and Lutheranism started to spread to Lithuania in the 16th century, but Catholicism regained its dominant status in the 17th century. Currently, members of the evangelical reformed faith are most densely situated in northern Lithuania, and the evangelical Lutherans in the southwestern areas of the country.
The 19th century proved to be particularly difficult for Catholicism, since the occupying authorities of the Russian Czar subjected the church to official persecution and destruction. During that period, the Russian Orthodox Church, with the Russian Old Believer Church, was expanding its power throughout Lithuania.
The years of the Soviet occupation proved to be even more difficult for Catholicism, as the totalitarian state implemented a policy of forced atheism and “scientific communism”: the sanctuary of major importance, Vilnius Cathedral, was closed and the Archbishop of Vilnius was banished to a provincial area. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church accomplished a great deal in the preservation of the identity of the country and even of Lithuanian culture itself. The underground publication, The Chronicle of the Catholic Church of Lithuania, published from 1972 right up to national rebirth in 1988, became a herald, well-known abroad, of a disdained nation and church.
Currently, along with the Catholics, there exist in Lithuania the Russian Old Believers and the Russian Orthodox, Jewish, Karaim and Islamic communities, which were traditionally established. Currently, new forms of the Christian religion are also becoming known.
Representatives of some 47 religious denominations live in Lithuania. The number of parishes of traditional faiths consist of: 684 Catholic; 58 Russian Old Believer; 41 Russian Orthodox; 53 Evangelical Lutherans; 11 Evangelical Reformed; 5 Jewish.
Lithuania is essentially meeting the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the transport sector. The transport acquis covers the sectors of road transport, railways, maritime transport and inland waterways. European Community legislation aims at improving the functioning of the Internal Market by promoting of environment – and user – friendly transport services. In completing preparations for membership, Lithuania must complete the transposition of the railway acquis, in particular as regards interoperability, and strengthen administrative capacity. In the area of air transport, Lithuania needs to strengthen administrative capacity and become a full member of the Joint Aviation Authorities before accession. The transitional arrangements foresee to reciprocally the access to the national transport markets for an initial period of two years for the Lithuania. Lithuania have been granted transitional arrangements until the end of 2006 in order to reach the full level the financial standing required for the admission to the occupation of transport undertakings engage exclusively in domestic road haulage and passenger transport operations.
Road transport, some implementing legislation especially in the technical road side inspections and transportable pressure equipment. The installation of tachographs for vehicles produced before 1987, and operating exclusively on the domestic market is to be accomplished by December 2005, and the introduction of the financial standing criterion for domestic road transport operators needs to be completed by January 2007. Administrative capacity should be strengthened in the Ministry of transport, the Road Administration, the State Road Transport Inspectorate and the Labour Inspectorate.
Rail transport, in particular the provisions such as separation of accounts, between infrastructure manager and operators, charging, capacity allocation and rail regulatory functions, as well as the interoperability directives. The capacity of the State Railway Inspectorate and other, railway administrations needs to be further strengthened.
Air transport, Lithuania has been granted a transitional arrangement on the use of Kaunas International Airport by noisy aircraft until the end of December 2004.Administrative capacity needs some further strengthening. Full membership of the Joint Aviation Authorities remains to be achieved, and efforts will need to be made in order to become full member before accession as required by the acquis and irrespective of the setting up of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
On inland waterways transport, legislative alignment is completed. Administrative structures in this area are in place and satisfactory.
Maritime transport, the adoption of implementing legislation remains to be completed, and with regard to the latest amendments to the acquis on passenger ships, fishing vessels. The Lithuania Maritime Safety Administration needs further strengthening. Lithuania, adopted in January 2003 a complementary action plan in order to further reduce the detention rate of Lithuanian flagged ships.
Lithuanian Food Traditions
Lithuanians like to eat good, tasty and filling foods. The tradition of eating well is inherited from the ancestors who would say, “he who eats well, works well”. Lithuanian traditional cuisine took shape over many centuries and was much influenced by cultural contacts with neighboring nations.
Lithuania is divided into five ethnic regions. This regional division is evident in foods that are particular to each region. The Highlanders (Aukstaiciai) live in the North Eastern region and are known for their pancakes and cottage cheese dishes. The Samogitians (Zemaiciai) inhabit the North Western region and have their special sour butter, porridges and gruels. Dzukai are the people of the South Eastern region and are main consumers of buckwheat, mushrooms and potatoes. Suvalkieciai, people of the South Western region favour smoked meat, sausages and cepelinai. Fish plays an important role in the diet of the seacoast Lithuanians and those living near lakes and rivers.
Lithuanians usually eat three times per day, and the most filling, sumptuous meal is lunch: soup, meat, potatoes etc. Breakfast and dinner are rather light meals.
One of the oldest and most fundamental staple food was and is rye bread (rugine duona). It is eaten every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Two kinds of bread are traditional – plain fermented and scalded. Plain fermented bread has been baked from ancient times, while scalded bread has only been baked since the beginning of the 20th century. Even though very few families bake bread at home now, they still value the traditional belief that bread is more valuable than gold.
Potatoes have become an essential starch staple and are eaten throughout the year. Many delicious dishes are made with potatoes. The most popular are cepelinai, kugelis, potato pancakes (bulviniai blynai), potato casseroles etc.
Another basic Lithuanian food is grain, such as rye, barley, oats, buckwhet, peas and oil crops (hemp, poppies, flax). Rye is still the most important crop, used mainly for rye bread. Groats and flour are made from wheat and barley.
Soup is eaten every day, too. Rich soups are served for lunch. Most popular soups are sauerkraut, beet and sorrel, with smoked meat as the base. Meat cooked in soup is often eaten as a second course. Most soups are served with bread or potatoes. In summer, cold beet soup with hot potatoes is very popular, as are cold sweet soups made with berries, fruit and tiny dumplings.
Lithuanians consume a lot of meat and its by-products. Pork has always been the most widely used meat – fresh, brined or smoked. For longer keeping, many varieties of sausage are made. Skilandis and other smoked meats are robust and delicious. Fowl meat is also popular. Domestic birds – chicken, geese, ducks – are cooked, smoked and baked.
Milk products have been popular since ancient times. It is used to make cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream and butter. Most popular is cheese (suris), which can be sour, sweet or flavored with caraway seed.
Lithuania is rich in mushrooms, and more than 400 edible varieties are found in the forests. Mushrooms are used in in many dishes to add special flavor to meat, fish and potato dishes. They are used fresh, dried, salted or marinated.
Fruits and berries and some vegetables are seasonal. During summer they are eaten fresh, but for winter supplies they are dried, fermented and pickled. The most popular fruits are apple, pear, plum, cherry; berries include strawberry, gooseberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, currant. The most popular vegetables are cabbage, beet, carrot, cucumber, onion, turnip, radish, parsnip and horseradish.
Mead (midus, honey liquor) and beer (alus) are ceremonial and traditional drinks. Midus is the oldest and noblest drink, served during banquets and special occasions. Travelers and chroniclers wrote about the manufacture of midus by Lithuanians and Prussians as early as the 11th century. Good conditions existed to make midus because honey used to be taken from wild bees in tree hollows since ancient times. Beer is brewed from sprouted barley malt. The most popular malt beer is made in Central and North Eastern Lithuania, where strong beer is popular. Most of home made wine is made in the South Western region (Suvalkija) from forest and orchard fruits and berries. To satisfy thirst, Lithuanians brew a semi sour drink, gira. Another ancient drink, sula, is made from birch and maple sap, collected early spring.
Each housewife does her very best to pamper the family during the holidays. There are many recipes for all occasions, and a variety of cakes, cookies and sweet rolls are made. Among them there is the famous sakotis, a must for every special occasion, which originally came from Germany at the beginning of the 20th century.
There exists a sound reason for saying that culture is the mainstay of the survival of Lithuania. The state, powerful during the Middle Ages and later weakened, was reborn with the same name in the 20th century, solely thanks to the fact that its main ethnic group, the Lithuanians, had managed to preserve their national identity, in other words their culture, language, literature, art and traditions.
From this identity sprouted all the new forms of creativity, having assimilated the modernism of the 20th century and current post-modernism.
The national culture and higher forms of art created on the foundation it provided, expanded and were consolidated during the interval between the two world wars. During the years of Soviet occupation, culture became a shelter of spiritual resistance. Culture assisted Lithuanians in protecting their identity. Ethnic culture was maintained and professional artistic culture was created cleverly and selflessly and often through the use of Soviet institutions. The new rebirth which commenced in 1988 was capable of delivering victory also because all of the creative forces of the nation had merged.
In May 1990, immediately following the declaration of independence, the largest Cultural Congress in the history of Lithuania assembled in Vilnius. Several thousand delegates debated the status of culture and discussed the tasks the nation would encounter during the 21st century.
A number of Lithuanian artists have gained world-wide recognition for their nation: Stasys Eidrigevicius, artist; Vytautas Kasuba, sculptor; Muza Rubackyte, musician; Ingeborga Dapkunaite, actress, Vytautas Zalakevicius, film director.
Lithuanian Food and Entertainment Traditions
Lithuanians like to eat good, tasty and filling foods. The tradition of eating well is inherited from our ancestors, who would say, he who eats well, works well.
Lithuanian cooks prepare simple but tasty foods. A good cook can create delicious meals using simple ingredients. It is said that each cook stirs the cookpot in her manner.
The traditional food preparer was and is mother, her knowledge and capabilities are handed down to the next female generation. Before food was prepared using only seasonal products, however during the last twenty-five years, fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs have been available all year round, imported or grown locally. The same applies to meat, now more fresh meat is used than salted or smoked.
Lithuanian traditional cuisine took shape over many centuries and was much influenced by cultural contacts with neighboring nations. A good example is potato cake – kugelis, which Lithuanians adapted from the German kitchen. This has now become a favorite dish throughout Lithuania.
Lithuania is divided into five ethnic regions. This regional division is evident in foods that are particular to each region. The Highlanders, Aukдtai‹iai, live in the rich loam, northeast region, and are known for their various pancakes and cottage cheese dishes. The Samogitians, eemai‹iai, inhabit the northwest region and have their special sour butter, porridges and many gruels. Dzukai are the people of the southeast region, where the soil is sandy and forested. They are main growers and users of buckwheat in all its forms, as well as mushrooms and potatoes. Suvalkie‹iai, people of the southwestern region favor smoked meats, sausages and zeppelins. Fish plays an important role in the diet of the seacoast Lithuanians and also of those living near lakes and rivers. These differences are less evident today than they were in olden times. However, the tradition of regional foods continues.
Lithuanians usually eat three times per day, but during periods of hard and intense work, especially in summer, mid morning and late afternoon snacks are added to the daily eating routine. The most filling, sumptuous meals are breakfast and lunch. Porridges, pancakes and soups for breakfast, soups, meat and potatoes for lunch. In the evening, dinner is a light meal. However, one does have a square meal, for the ancient Lithuanians said that there is no sleep on an empty stomach.
Lithuanians consider eating a holy event and behavior at table is like in church, quiet, orderly and reverential. Each family member had his permanent place at the table, with father sitting at the head of the table, mother sitting opposite father, the oldest son to father right, and the remaining members next to the son. The traditional seating at table is now practiced mainly during feast days, when the entire family gathers.
Today the ancient tradition of placing bread first on the table is still observed. Should a visitor arrive when the family is at table, the visitor greets the eaters with “skanaus” (bon appetite). If father answers “prasom”(you’re welcome), it means do join us. However, if the answer is “aciu” (thank you), the visitor is not invited to join in the eating. When the meal is finished, the spoon is turned upside down, to show that one has eaten well and the food was delicious.
No one leaves the table until everyone has finished eating and has thanked the cook, mother, who in her turn answers “I sveikata” (to your health).
Christmas Eve, Christmas
As the days draw shorter, Lithuanians have finished most needed chores and are ready to celebrate Christmas Eve, December 24th, and Christmas, December 25th.
Christmas Eve is a very special time with the gathering of the family at the ritual meal “kucia”. This word has been borrowed from the Greek “kukkia”.
Kucia denotes the main food of the ritual supper, made from grain and pulses.
The evening meal begins when the evening star appears in the sky. A white, linen tablecloth is placed on a hay-covered table. Hay symbolizes the birth of Jesus in the manger and also the hay, where the souls of dead family members rest on.
Holy wafers and Christmas bread are placed side by side in the center of the table. These are surrounded by other foods, of which there can be seven, nine or twelve, all meatless. Twelve foods are most commonly prepared, to assure that the coming year, twelve months, will be good and plentiful.
The traditional kucia – porridge, is eaten with poppy seed milk, as are the Christmas biscuits. It is a must to eat oatmeal pudding with sweetened water.
The other foods include beet soup with dried mushrooms, fish – mostly pike, herring and mushroom dishes, as well as apples and nuts.
Traditional drinks are thin cranberry pudding and dried fruit compote.
When all the foods are in place, candles are placed on the table and lit, and the family is seated. A special place is set at the table for a family member who died during that year. It is also tradition to invite a poor or homeless person, or to take food to them. This behavior assures that there will be happiness in the family throughout the coming year.
Eating is begun with the passing around of the Christmas wafer and with wishes for each member, then all the foods have to be tasted.
Christmas morning begins with the clearing away of the Christmas Eve table. Christmas foods are mainly of meat, generally pork, cooked pigХs head, sausages, baked piglet and ham. There is also an assortment of sweet breads and cakes.
Christmas is the ancient feast of the return of the sun, and it was celebrated in pre-Christian times in many European nations.
Shrove Tuesday is a happy and noisy celebration of the transition from winter to spring. The festivities begin on Sunday and last for three days. This also puts an end to the period of meat eating, which began after Christmas. On Shrove Tuesday, it is traditional to eat very rich, fat foods at least twelve times, so that you would be fat and healthy. The foods of the day include different pancakes, fat pork meat and porridges.
The table is laden with an abundance of foods and awaits not only family members but also masqueraders, who go from house to house. After eating, the masqueraders wish the homeowners good luck, health and good harvest in the coming year.
Easter is the first spring holiday, the rebirth of nature. The dyed egg is the primary symbol of Easter, signifying life, goodness and bountiful harvest. The egg dyeing tradition is older than Christianity. Easter egg decorating is a family affair, done on the Saturday before Easter.
The Easter table is covered with a white, linen table cloth and the first thing to be placed on the table are dyed eggs in a basket or clay bowl, decorated with rue, cranberry stalks or sprouted wheat greens.
The traditional Easter table decoration is an egg holder, a tree branch, with nine or twelve branches. The egg holder is decorated with greens, colored paper and sprouted birch and pussy willow branches with dough birds.
Traditional Easter foods are made of pork, veal, fowl and milk: baked piglet, pig’s head, veal ham, sausage, cheese and in the center of the table a butter or sugar lamb set in sprouted oat greens. There is also an abundance of Easter baked goods, both sweet and savory. Traditional drinks are beer, kvass, maple and birch sap.
The Easter meal is begun with eggs. It is tradition to strike two eggs together, one person holds his egg while the other hits it with his egg. The strongest egg is left uneaten.
Visiting relatives and friends begins in the afternoon, when it is especially common for children to visit their godparents and neighbors, where they are given Easter eggs as gifts. The traditions of striking and rolling eggs is still popular throughout the country.
Family holidays incorporate the main events in life, births, weddings and funerals. These are occasions for communal eating and drinking. Regular, every day foods are eaten during christenings and funerals, but weddings are the exception. Food preparations for wedding feasts start very early with a variety of foods and drinks. A beer maker is hired as well as a cook with a culinary reputation.
Wedding guests arrive bearing baked goods, cakes and drink. This ancient tradition is still in practice.
Upon their return from church, the newlyweds are received with the traditional bread, salt and drink.
As the wedding guests leave, they are given a piece of the traditional wedding cake to take home.
Lithuanians have always been known for their hospitality. It is said that “if you do not love other people, you will not be loved”. When expecting guests, Lithuanians go all out to prepare all kinds of food and drink, for they want the guests to comment “there was an abundance of everything, the only food missing was bird’s milk”. However, the visitor does not begin to savor the food until he is urged to do so by the hosts.
Lithuanians are happy and sober, they drink slowly because they want to extend the socializing, they often share the same drinking glass. The drinking glass goes around the table, to the right, together with the bottle and greetings – be healthy, thank you, to your health and many other wishes that are shouted with each drink.
Such feasting is very friendly and cozy. One experiences the pleasure of sitting, talking and relaxing with relatives or neighbors.
Drinks which have been popular through the ages include mead, beer and krupnikas, a herbal alcoholic drink.
Every get together is accompanied by songs about beer, mead, hops and barley grain. While singing the guests praise the hosts and thank them for their hospitality. When the guests prepare to leave, the hostess prepares a gift of food to take home. This gift of food is called “rabbit’s cake”/
A much loved or honored guest is accompanied to the door or gate, where one last drink is shared with the hosts to wish the guest a good, dustless trip home.
LITHUANIAN EATING HABITS AND HOSPITALITY TRADITIONS
Lithuanians have rich eating traditions and maintain strict seating order at table. The father sits at the end of the table, near the wall. The eldest son sits at the father’s right, while other men sit next to the son along the wall. Women sit across from the men and mother sits at the opposite end from the father. This traditional seating is maintained especially during holidays, when the entire family gathers together.
Should a visitor arrive while eating, he will be asked to join the family at the table. A visitor from far away is either seated next to father or in his place, a beggar is seated at the other end of the table, near the door.
Bread is placed in the most honorable place on the table which is right in front of father. Eating starts with the slicing of bread by the father.
Father slices and passes the bread with great respect. The first slice, a corner of the bread was given to the eldest, married son, with wishes that his firstborn will be a son. Each member of the family took a slice of bread directly from father’s hand and placed it respectfully on the table. The remaining, unsliced piece of bread remains on the table, with the cut end facing the most important corner of the house or is facing the sun. The cut end of the bread was not placed facing the door because it was believed she would be mad and would walk out of the house. Placing bread upside
down on the table was a serious desecration and for that bread’s vengeance appeared as a death in the family.
It was not allowed to break a slice with one hand because it takes both hands to earn bread.
Lithuanians consider eating a holy event and behavior at table is like in church, quiet, orderly and reverential. This behavior has come down through generations,
Should a visitor arrive when the family is at table, the visitor greets the eaters
with “skanaus” – ” bon apetit”. If father answers “praрom” – “you are welcome”, it means do join us at the table. However if the answer is “aиiu” – “thankyou”, the visitor is not invited to join in the eating.
An unexpected visitor was always graciously received and even if the family was not prepared to eat yet, food was soon set out. It consisted of traditional sausages, curd cheese, honey, eggs and homemade beer. The visitor did not eat or drink until the host urged him to do so. This urging, when done right away when food and drink is on the table, is a true sign of Lithuanian hospitality.
If the table is loaded with all kinds of goodies but there is no urging to partake in the food, it is said, ” there was plenty of everything, but there was no urging at all from the host”.
In earlier times, the host filled his glass with beer or mead, and greeted guests with these words,
” to your health dear brothers, drink and be merry. Be healthy, dear visitors”. He sprinkled a few drops on the ceiling or on the floor so that everyone would be in good health and then drank from his glass. Refilled it again and passed it to the guest. If everyone shared the same glass, each one greeted each other with these words, ” be healthy”, and answered with ” to your health”. The glass was sent around the table from the right side because spring seeding was done with grain sprinkled to the right side, so drinks also go to that side.
This tradition still continues today.
Guests are constantly urged by the host to drink, ” drink dear guests, beer will show his sign”. It does not take long for the sign to appear, for soon there is more talking and singing. Singing is always an important part of a gathering.
Lithuanians are known for their hospitality. They like to entertain and be entertained. Expecting guests they go all out preparing all kinds and amounts of delicacies. The hosts appreciate this statement, ” there was plenty of everything, the only thing missing was bird’s milk”.
Guests preparing to go, thank, saying ” thank you for the delicious cake, strong beer. Today we ate and drank your goodies, next time we’ll drink mine”. The host answers, ” don’t mention it, please, to your health”.
The arrival of guests is announced by the family cat, when she washes her face with her paw. The guest will come from the direction to which the cat is facing. Another arrival is forecast by cutlery falling on the floor, if a knife or spoon falls, a male guest is on his way, if a fork falls, expect a female guest.
What are the most often commited Crimes in Lithuania?
If you were a minister of Justice, what Actions you would take to make People feel safer
In my opinion, crime has increased as a result of greater accessibility to weapons combined with the fact that large numbers of young people are unemployed, with very few prospects of finding a job. There are several the most common crimes in Lithuania as well as a few solutions to the problem.
First of all, I would like to point out that the number of burgled houses and flats is increasing at an alarming rate. Secondly, there are more and more car thefts. Thieves have become wiser than they ever have been; as a result they are capable to break even the best alarm systems of cars. Needless to say, muggings, arsons and other minor crimes such as shoplifting are problems of a great concern in our country.
It is popularly believed, that most of the criminals are school leavers who can’t find the job. If I were a minister of justice I would spend more money on developing job-training and job-placement programmes for our young people. In addition to this, young people are the key to crime prevention. We must teach our children-both in school and at home – what the realities of the life and of crime are and how becoming involved in crime can ruin a young person’s life. Furthermore, a lot of criminals commit crimes when they leave prison. If they were kept locked up longer and given longer prison sentences, the town would be a much better place to live in. I realize that prisons are already overcrowded and expensive to run, but surely it’s a false economy to release prisoners who are obviously not ready or willing to obey the law. An effective solution is for the government to have a greater control over guns and other dangerous weapons. Therefore, new laws should be passed to restrict people from owning fire arms.
To sum up, all countries in the world face with the problem of crime and perhaps the best solution to it, is better more vigilant policing which will ensure that more criminals are caught and we should do our best to prevent young people from turning to the world of crime.