THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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When I started my first year of school in Palanga, during Christmas there was a lot of snow and it was extremely cold. I did not have to go school if the temperature outside was below -25C degrees. Every morning I would go to the window to check the thermometer, but that unfriendly thermometer always showed either -23C or -24C, thus I had to go more than one kilometer to school every day.
I remember that we always celebrated Christmas at our home in Vytautas-street, and I cannot quite recall but I think it was number 91 (today it is number 23A and there you can find a memorial museum dedicated to my father). Uncle Pranas Ragauskas would always bring us a Christmas-tree to my father´s office and then he would tie it at the sealing in order for us to be able to spin it around, whilst the children would run around it. My mother and me, we would decorate the tree with various Christmas decorations, sparkles and candles, which we would light up when we would be nearby. We would never leave the candles burning without anyone to be around, because we were afraid that there might occur a fire.
During Christmas, the whole family would get together: my cousins Pranas, Antanas, Zose, Stase and Vale, and their parents Pranas and Marta Ragauskas; also Ricardas Estka, whom Stase married later on. My mother with our housemaids would prepare the food for Christmas eve: herring and other various sorts of “stuffed” fishes (gefilte fish), salads, marinated mushrooms, “stuffed” eggs, grandma´s or “bapkas” cake, special Lithaunian pastry called “zagareliai”, poppy soup with another Lithuanian pastry called “kuciukai” and of course a special Lithuanian drink known as “kisielius”. During Christmas Eve, we would always have 12 dishes on the table and since my mother´s family was Catholic, it was not allowed to eat meat. However, during Christmas, my mother would roast a duck with cabbage and beetroot, ham and sometimes she would roast a rabbit caught by the hunters.
When we would all finally sit at the Christmas table, we would all share this special bread called “kaledaitis”, which would be followed by a prayer said by my mother, and even though my father was a strong “libertine”, he would never have anything against my mother´s and her family´s religious beliefs.
So these are my childhood memories of how I celebrated Christmas with my family in Palanga.
Translated by Cassandra Myhre
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