THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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The world’s best outdoor market
– since the early 1700s!
Text and photos: Aage Myhre, Editor-in-Chief
It is so genuine that you can hardly believe it without seeing it with your own eyes. Lithuania's Kaziukas Fair (KAZIUKO MUGE) is like an undiscovered, undisrupted island in the huge ocean of 'plastic commercialism' that unfortunately characterizes so much of our today's fairs, markets and festivals.
Where else in the world can you find an outdoor market and festival that has been going on continuously through 300 years? What other nowadays' market is a declared plastic-free zone? Where else can you find a single market in which an entire nation's population still participates with enormous enthusiasm? In what other country can one experience what thousands of individuals from the countryside and the cities spend so much of their time through a whole year to produce of genuine artefacts - knitted, crocheted, sewed, carpentry - forged by a people who truly treasure their traditions in handicrafts and folk art?
Every single year in every town throughout Lithuania, March starts off with the Kaziukas Fair, a ritual that marks the coming of spring, dedicated to St. Casimir, the patron saint of Lithuania. The festival originated in the 17th century, and by the 19th century it had developed into the fair and festival that is now known internationally.
This year's fair takes place Friday 1st – Sunday 3rd of March and will be celebrated throughout the country, as well as in many Lithuanian strongholds around the world, for the complete weekend.
But the most genuine ones are of course to find in the very homeland, so please do not wait to check with your travel agent, maybe there still are available tickets!
Let’s meet for a mug of local beer and a fresh smoked snack from rural Lithuania!
As for what you can expect to see on the streets of Lithuania's cities this weekend, think first of all of arts and crafts. Craftsmen from all over Lithuania and neighbouring countries flood the streets with their original creations. Here you can buy woodwork, paintings, jewellery, pottery and pretty much everything else you can think of, both in traditional forms and contemporary designs.
And what would a Kaziukas Fair be if there was no traditional food to try? Here you can sample a cup of beer or a good old Gira, a plate of porridge, a few pretzels, and if you're lucky you might even get a hold of the traditional potato dumplings, the cepelinai.
In this festival, tradition overpowers the cold and all events will take place outdoors. Before you baulk at the idea of spending time outside in this wintry weather though, consider this: Getting out into the streets in this chilly season, even for a couple of hours, can be a rewarding experience, and with so many nasty cold and flu viruses circulating through the indoor air, it may even be a salvation. And think of all those poor craftsmen, who spend three days from morning till night in the freezing weather, just so you can drop by and be entertained…
The Kaziukas Fair is not only a place to sell. It's a place to find new contacts, build relationships with the Vilnius galleries and, of course, to have fun meeting all the craftsmen and exchanging ideas. So take some extra coin, jump into some warm clothes, and off you go to the Kaziukas Fair, be it the one in Vilnius Old Town, or in any other Lithuanian city.
During more ancient times many pilgrims came to Vilnius from various Lithuanian places for the celebration of St. Casimir's Day on the 4th of March,. After services in the cathedral, the people lingered for a while. And it was this that gave rise to the Kaziukas Fair. Thousands of sellers, buyers and visitors came to these fairs. They were held outdoors.
Another typical Kaziukas Fair product or muginukas, is a heart- shaped honey cookie, decorated with coloured sugar flowers, zigzags, dots and birds. People buy and give them to selected loved ones.
Let me say it again: Check with your travel agent, maybe there still are available airline tickets.
We can help you with good hotel deals…
VilNews e-magazine is published in Vilnius, Lithuania. Editor-in-Chief: Mr. Aage Myhre. Inquires to the editors: editor@VilNews.com.
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