Lithuanian food and entertainment tradicions

 |  |LITHUANIAN TRADITIONAL FOODS |  || | | || |  | ||  |  |  || | | || |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, Aukätai‹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 | || |Kuèios, Kalëdos | || |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 pigÕs 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 | || |Uþgavënës | || |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 | || |Velykos | || |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.  | || |  | || |  | || |  | ||PREVIOUS |CONTENT | NEXT |