Lithuanian food and entertainment tradicions

 
|  |LITHUANIAN TRADITIONAL FOODS |  |
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| |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 too 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 kiitchen. 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, an

nd 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, buut 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 an
nd 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 24
4th, 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.
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| |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.  | |
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