THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Text: Saulene Valskyte
Spring has come, the sun is shining, birds are singing, at least that's what it should be like. In Lithuania Easter weather swings from blizzard to burning sun, but regardless to that is this the most colorful celebration of the year. As all Christian celebrations Easter traditions here are intertwined with paganism, Easter in particulary were a pagan celebration of awakening nature.
The Easter celebration starts a week before Easter Day, on Palm Sunday, when people are gathering in churches with beautiful, colorful, original “palms”. In Lithuania every region have there own palm making traditions, usually palm base are the juniper twig. During the church service the palms are being blessed. Afterwards people participate in a traditional Palm Sunday ritual, beating each other with the blessed palms, wishing each other health and strength. Today this is mostly a children game, but in old days everyone were doing it, singing "It's not me, it's palm what beats you, there's Easter in a week, and you will get an Easter egg".
Just as with Christmas, the week before Easter is supposed to be meatless. Although this tradition is not very popular these days, at least the last few days people should try to eat less meat or not at all. This means that herring and other fish courses should be the most common ingredients on the table.
Very important is to clean everything well before Easter Day. Traditionally Holy Thursday was the "cleaning day", but as people get more and more busy, Easter Saturday has become a more convenient day for all cleaning jobs.
The day before Easter is for decorating eggs. These are the two most popular ways to do that:
Melt some wax in a dish and make some ornaments on the egg with the tip of the needle or crochet and wait until the wax gets cold and hard. Decorate the egg with paint and when it gets dry scrub the wax off.
With onion shells
Boil eggs in water with lots of onion shells. You can also decorate it with some plants print. To do that put a leaf or a blossom on the egg and lace it up with a thread, then put it in something tight (most widely used are stockings) and then boil in with the shells.
When I was a child, we were decorating eggs with color pencils, because Easter eggs are always more for children.
The most important meal on Easter Day is a late breakfast after a mass at church. Family members who don't go to church, stay home to prepare the festive table, covered with a white tablecloth and the table decorated with a white lamb figurine.
On a traditional Easter table you will find traditional Lithuanian dark bread, big pork roast, special Easter pie and Easter eggs.
The meal starts with a short prayer, and the elder of the family blesses the table with blessed water from church, then hands out one Easter egg to everyone. The egg fight begins! The egg fight starts when the people around the table are hitting the ends of each other’s eggs until they crack. Then the winners play with the other winners until only one egg is left un-smashed. The winner egg owner should be healthy all year long.
After the egg fight is over, the meal continues with a big pork roast. In some regions the pork head was the main course of the meal. Also very popular is meat jelly with some vegetables. To make it more festive, some people set it in egg shell to make it look as an Easter egg.
After the meal mother the Easter eggs are equally divided for all the children and they go to roll eggs. Eggs are rolled from a gutter or a plank, with the point to hit each other’s eggs that already have rolled down the slide.
Grownups, who went to the church in the morning, usually go to sleep after this, as they had a very early morning. People don't visit each others on the first Day of Easter, except if they have a neighbor unable to walk. Then every neighbor should visit the valetudinarian with some presents from their Easter tables.
Second Day of Easter is for visiting friends and neighbors and exchanging Easter eggs.
Have a nice, sunny and very colorful Easter with your families, let your Easter eggs be the strongest and most beautifull of all.
Happy Easter from Saulene!
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