20 January 2018
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Historical Lithuania

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Christmas 1936:
Days of juvenescence
in Palanga, West Lithuania
--Front row: Me – Vytautas Jonas Šliūpas
--Second row: - Zosė Ragauskaitė; Petrusė Bitkevičienė
--Third row: my father – Dr. Jonas Šliūpas
--Fourth row: –Pranas Ragauskas; Stasė Ragauskaitė;
my mother Grasilda Šliūpienė; Antanas Ragauskas
--Fifth row: – unknown person; Antanas Bitkevičius; Ričardas Estka.
By Vytautas Sliupas
Burlingame, California
I was born in Palanga in 1930. I lived with my parents – Dr. Jonas and Grasilda Grauslte Sliupas. The memories I have from my juvenescence start from the year 1933 when I was a 3-year old “man”. Read more...
Category : Historical Lithuania

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A true story about a Lithuanian family that was deported
to the Lena River delta, North Siberia, year 1942
Text: Leona T. Gustaff

“The tents were freezing cold, harsh, and distressing; so, the adults decided to build better living conditions. "We can build barracks," said one Lithuanian, "We can catch the logs in the Lena River." The men waded barefoot into the icy water, caught floating logs, brought them to shore, and built the barracks. They covered the outside walls with snow and ice which they learned would help keep out the frigid temperature. They also found a large iron stove, which they placed in the middle of the building.” Read more...
Category : Historical Lithuania

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A Christmas story from Šilagalis,
North Lithuania, year 1945
By Aage Myhre

Christmas of 1945 is approaching a small farm on the outskirts of the village Šilagalis in northern Lithuania. It is the 22nd of December, and the mother in the house feels very happy that her 21-year-old son Povilas has finally come home for a visit, after being away for many months.

Category : Historical Lithuania

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Lithuanian refugee camp in Germany, Christmas 1945
A Christmas gift for father
By Felicia Prekeris Brown
Author of her family's memoir, "God, Give Us Wings" (Amazon)
December 1945, found our small family beginning to settle into our fourth Displaced Person Camp since the end of World War II in May. We were now in Blomberg, a small town located about 50 miles southwest of Hannover, Germany, in a rural area left unscathed during the conflict. The British Zone administrators had commandeered private houses from resident Germans; each refugee family was allocated a room of its own. After months spent in barrack-type accommodations at three former camps, we felt elated to finally have a little privacy. Read more...
Category : Historical Lithuania

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Christmas during Soviet years

By Aage Myhre
Much of the traditional Christmas celebrations were forbidden during Lithuania's Soviet years. The Soviet Union tried instead to introduce New Year as the annual winter celebration.

But privately, in the homes Lithuanians were sticking to the proud traditions of Christmas from centuries back in time. Christmas Worship in churches was banned, so also the religious ceremonies took place at home in the families.

Category : Historical Lithuania

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It's the most wonderful
time of the year...
Twelve different dishes are served on the table because Jesus had twelve apostles. All the dishes are strictly meatless: fish, herring, sližikai with poppy seed milk, kisielius (cranberry pudding), a dried fruit soup or compote, a salad of winter and dried vegetables, mushrooms, boiled or baked potatoes, sauerkraut (cooked, of course, without meat) and bread. Gero apetito! Skanaus!
Photo from:
By: Saulene Valskyte
Christmas is probably the most important celebration in the whole Christian world, but Lithuanian Christmas traditions are outstanding, even in this context. Lithuania has a very rich history and many historical events have influenced our traditions, starting with hints of paganism, followed by remainders from the Soviet occupation, and finishing up with the intrusion of the modern world. In this article I will tell you a little bit about our Christmas traditions—how they should be and how they are still celebrated today. Gero apetito! Skanaus! Linksmų Kalėdų!
Category : Historical Lithuania

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2nd part: VilNews interview with

Professor Landsbergis, Veisaitė




Journalist: Dalia Cidzikaitė
Questions prepared by Aage Myhre

Today we have the pleasure of presenting second last) part of a large, exclusive interview with two professors who have meant infinitely much for their homeland Lithuania. In today's interview, we focus on their memories, experiences of and thoughts about the BELOW eras of their lives, over the years 1950-2015:


Category : Front page / Historical Lithuania

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Exclusive VilNews interview with Professor Landsbergis, Veisaitė 


Photo: Patrick Murphy

Journalist: Dalia Cidzikaitė
Questions prepared by Aage Myhre

Today we have the pleasure of presenting a large, exclusive interview with two professors who have meant infinitely much for their homeland Lithuania. In today's interview, we focus on their memories, experiences of and thoughts about the following  eras of their lives, over the years 1930-1960: 


Category : Front page / Historical Lithuania

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Kaunas pictures from the 1930s


Category : Front page / Historical Lithuania

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Lithuanian DPs

in Australia after WW2

Image Copyright Western Australian Museum

By Jura Reilly

After World War Two Australia agreed to provide a haven for 170,000 refugees from war-torn Europe. This was the beginning of a large-scale immigration program undertaken by the Australian government, which felt that the population needed to grow so that the country could defend itself better, and have enough people to fill all the jobs that were available. Most of the refugees arrived during 1949 and 1950. Before WW2, more than 90% of Australians were from a British or Irish background. Presently, this proportion has dropped to approximately 80%. A total of 9906 Lithuanian DPs came to Australia between 1947 and 1953. In the 2011 Census, 13,594 adults acknowledged Lithuanian origins.

Category : Front page / Historical Lithuania

Does Lithuania’s royal history deserve more attention and respect?

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The Seal of King Mindaugas (1203-1263, reign 1251-1263) is a medieval
seal affixed to the October 1255 act by Mindaugas, King of Lithuania,
granting Selonia to the Teutonic Knights.

Historically, The Kingdom of Lithuania is rooted in the 13th Century when Mindaugas was crowned by Pope Innocent IV as King of Lithuania. Over the next five hundred years the storms of war and politics rendered its toll. Expansion and alliances with Poland and other nations, were not strong enough to keep the transformed Grand Duchy of Lithuania independent. In 1795 it was all but consumed by Russia.

After two centuries, in 1918 the strong will of the Lithuanian people gained independent statehood but this was also short lived. Twenty years of autonomy again ended with Russian and Nazi occupation.

Today’s Republic of Lithuania declared Independence (again) as a parliamentary democracy on March 11, 1990 and was internationally recognized in September 1991. 

After the Freedom Declaration in 1918, there were many who wanted the monarchy reinstated in Lithuania. In 1990-1991 there was hardly anyone who dared to come up with such an idea. But today more and more people want attention to Lithuania's proud, royal history, and many believe the royal idea and past has wrongfully been swept under the rug ...

Here are some interesting articles, absolutely worth reading!

The trampling of Lithuania’s history
Restoring Lithuania's Royal Titles

Official site of His Imperial Majesty King Roman
King Roman of Lithuania sells titles from his house

Category : Front page / Historical Lithuania

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Gediminas’ Tower,
the symbol of Lithuania

Photos: Aage Myhre

Gediminas' Tower (Lithuanian: Gedimino pilies bokštas) is the only remaining part of the Upper Castle in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The first fortifications were built of wood by Duke of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Gediminas. Later the first brick castle was completed in 1409 by Grand Duke Vytautas. Some remnants of the old castle have been restored, guided by archeological research.

It is possible to climb to the top of the hill on foot or by taking a funicular. The tower houses an exposition of archeological findings from the hill and the surrounding areas. It is also an excellent vantage point, from where the panorama of Vilnius' Old Town can be admired.

Gediminas' Tower is an important state and historic symbol of the city of Vilnius and of Lithuania itself. It is depicted on the national currency, the litas, and is mentioned in numerous Lithuanian patriotic poems and folk songs. The Flag of Lithuania was re-hoisted atop the tower on October 7, 1988, during the independence movement that was finalized by the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania on March 11, 1990.

The Castle Hill surrounded by rivers was a convenient location to build a castle and establish a bigger settlement. Archaeological investigations have revealed that there had already been a settlement on the Castle Hill in the Neolithic. In the 9th century, the hill was reinforced with wooden and stone fences, whereas in the 11th-13th centuries a wooden castle had already been erected. The early history of the castle is closely related to the history of the development of the city.

During the reign of Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas, Vilnius was already known as the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Vilnius Castle was mentioned for the first time in the 1323 treaty between Gediminas and the Teutonic Order. Often the Higher Castle is referred to as the Gediminas Castle. During the reign of the first rulers from the Gediminas dynasty the Vilnius Higher Castle was of great significance not only as a political centre of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but also as a constituent element of the defensive complex of the capital (together with the Lower and Crooked Castles) that withstood an intensified attack of the Teutonic Order during the second half of the 14th century. When a fire destroyed the wooden castle, a brick castle was constructed during the reign of Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas at the beginning of the 15th century. The remains of the brick castle have survived until the present day.

Eventually, as the situation in the state changed, the castle lost its purpose and subsequent fires and wars, after which it was not repaired, devastated the castle. During 1610-1613, a prison functioned in the basement of the castle, whereas the Higher Castle was last used as a defensive fortress during the war in 1655-1661. The Muscovite army was temporarily settled in the castle. Afterwards, the castle was completely desolated and was slowly disintegrating and declining.

The defensive functions of the castle were brought to light in the 19th century, when a fortress was established in the territory of Vilnius castles following the order of the Tsar of Russia in 1831. The ruins of the Higher Castle were also taken care of, i.e. the remains of the southern and northern towers of the Higher Castle as well as its western and northern walls were demolished, the masonry was conserved, and a sloping Castle Hill was reinforced. In 1838, a wooden two-storey structure of optical telegraph was erected on top of the western tower. When the fortress was removed from the territory of Vilnius castles, a new road was built on the slope of the Castle Hill in 1896, the slopes were planted with trees, and a café was opened in the western tower. During the interwar period, the conservation works were carried on.

When Lithuania restored its state in 1918, the flag of Lithuania was first hoisted on the Gediminas Castle Hill on January 1, 1919. Unfortunately, this was not for long. Vilnius region was occupied by the Polish and only on October 29, 1939 the tricolour of Lithuania was hoisted again on the castle tower. During the World War II the western tower of the castle was damaged badly.

After the war, although Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union, the tower was rebuilt and, in 1960, when the territory of the hill was arranged and the fragments of the castle buildings were conserved, the Castle Museum was opened in the western tower.

From 1968, the museum became the subdivision of the National Museum of Lithuania (at that time, the Museum of History and Ethnography). When the Lithuanian National Revival began, the flag of Lithuania was once again hoisted on the castle tower on October 7, 1988, whereas in 1995, when the castle tower was renovated, a renewed exposition opened its doors to visitors. A picturesque panorama of the capital of an independent Lithuania opens up from the scenic overlook installed on the top of the tower. The castle tower together with the flag of the Lithuanian state became the symbol of national struggles for independence and statehood.

Category : Historical Lithuania

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Jonas Basanavičius
The patriarch of Lithuania
Jonas Basanavičius (23 November 1851 – 16 February 1927) was an activist and proponent of Lithuania's National Revival and founder of the first Lithuanian language newspaper Aušra. He was a signatory of the Act of Independence of Lithuania on 16 February 1918 Basanavičius is often given the unique informal honorific title of the "Patriarch of the Nation" for his contributions and help in re-establishing the Lithuanian state. 

By Aage Myhre, Editor-in-Chief

“A man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.”
- George William Curtis

It is 16 February 2013. It is today exactly 95 years since a group of brave men wrote the Lithuanian declaration of independence after the country had been under Tsarist Russia's iron heel through more than 100 years. These men represented a generation that certainly felt an overwhelming sense of pride at the dawn of renewed independence. The Act of February 16 was signed by all 20 representatives of the Council of Lithuania, proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania, governed by democratic principles. The meeting and signing procedures were chaired by Jonas Basanavičius, the man often given the unique informal honorific title of the "Patriarch of the Nation" for his contributions and help in re-establishing the Lithuanian state.

What these men presented from the balcony of a house in Pilies street here in Vilnius Old Town was not much more than a piece of paper. But it was a paper that symbolized a nation willing to throw off the yoke. 
A nation that had won back its self respect and dignity in spite of the injustice and oppression that had been going on since the Russian occupation started in 1795.

We salute these men for their courage and foresight. We salute them because they, in faith, hope and dignity clearly showed that Lithuania wanted to live up to its proud history as a nation of greatness.

Great nations are founded on self-belief!

As we now know, the newfound freedom was not going to last much more than 20 years. But they were 20 important years in which Lithuanians showed the world and themselves that the citizens and the country's leaders had the ability to collaborate an utterly successful reconstruction of the nation. Pride, dignity and courage came to characterize the inter-war years of this country.

The years 1988-1991 were also characterized by dignity and confidence. The quiet revolution that defined the Lithuanian and the other Baltic States' revolt against Soviet rule was almost like a textbook on how a nation's inner strength can lead to freedom originating from within, from its own citizens.
Jonas Basanavičius
23 November 1851- 16 February 1927

From Wikipedia

Jonas Basanavičius was an activist and proponent of Lithuania's National Revival and founder of the first Lithuanian language newspaper Aušra. He was one of the initiators and the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 1905 Congress of Lithuanians, the Great Seimas of Vilnius. He was also the founder and chairman of the Lithuanian Scientific Society (1907).

As a member of the Council of Lithuania, he was a signatory of the Act of Independence of Lithuania on February 16, 1918. Basanavičius is often given the unique informal honorific title of the "Patriarch of the Nation" (Lithuanian: tautos patriarchas) for his contributions and help in re-establishing the Lithuanian state.

Basanavičius was born in the village of Ožkabaliai (Polish: Oszkobole) in Congress Poland, client state of the Russian Empire, to a family of Lithuanian farmers. Birth complications prompted his parents, devout Catholics, to pray and promise that they would educate their firstborn to be a priest. Keeping up with the promise, the parents supported a village tutor for local children. There Basanavičius learned basic reading, writing, and arithmetic as well as serving the altar. He further attended an elementary school in Lukšiai. During that time Polish was regarded as the more prestigious language of the nobility and well educated people. Russian was used in state administration, while Lithuanian was used among the peasants. After the Uprising of 1863, Tsarist authorities implemented various Russification policies in an attempt to reduce the influence of Polish language and culture. One of such policies allowed Basanavičius to attend Marijampolė Gymnasium. Before the uprising, a son of a Lithuanian could hardly expect to be admitted to a school catering to Polish nobility. Basanavičius failed his first entrance examinations in 1865, but succeeded a year later.

Basanavičius developed appreciation for Lithuanian language, culture, and history from local hill forts and his parents, who provided a loving treasure of local songs, legends, stories. This appreciation grew and deepened at the gymnasium were Basanavičius got acquainted with classical authors of Lithuanian history (Maciej Stryjkowski, Alexander Guagnini, Jan Długosz, Marcin Kromer), studied Lithuanian folk songs, read classical poems The Seasons by Kristijonas Donelaitis, Konrad Wallenrod by Adam Mickiewicz, Margier by Władysław Syrokomla and historical fiction by Józef Ignacy Kraszewski. He drifted away from religion after reading criticism of Life of Jesus by Ernest Renan. Upon graduation in 1873, he managed to persuade his parents to allow him to attend Moscow University and not the Sejny Priest Seminary.

Basanavičius traveled to Moscow first to study history and philology, but after two semesters he transferred to the Moscow Medical Academy. Again, he benefited from the post-uprising Russification policies. He received one of ten fellowships (360 rubles annually) established for Lithuanian students from Congress Poland. He also supplemented his income by taking up private tutoring, but the living conditions were harsh and that had a lasting impact on his health. Basanavičius actively participated in student affairs, followed developments in Lithuania, and continued his studies of Lithuanian heritage. Collecting data from Rumyantsev and university libraries, he hoped to write a study on Grand Duke Kęstutis. He usually spent his summers in Lithuania, collecting folk songs, fairytales, riddles.

Medical career in Bulgaria

File:50 Litu.JPG
Jonas Basanavičius on 50 litas banknote 

After graduation in spring 1879, Basanavičius made a trip back to Lithuania and had a few patients in Ožkabaliai, Vilkaviškis and Aleksotas. He returned to Moscow in October 1879 hoping to establish his private practice, but soon he accepted lucrative proposal from the Principality of Bulgaria to become the head of a hospital in Lom Palanka, a town of about 8,000 inhabitants. After arrival in late January 1880, he found a run-down hospital located in a former hotel and energetically took measures to construct a new building, establish outpatient service, and combat perception that the hospital was a place to die rather than to get well. In 1880, the hospital had 522 inpatients and 1144 outpatients compared to just 19 patients during 1879. The position paid well, expenses were low, so he was able to quickly repay debts and accumulate savings. Basanavičius also wrote medical research articles, liberal political articles supporting Petko Karavelov, and cultural articles for Prussian Lithuanian, including Tilžės Keleivis, Lietuwißka Ceitunga, Mitteilungen Der Litauischen Literarischen Gesellschaft.

After assassination of Tsar Alexander II of Russia in March 1881, Bulgarian Prince Alexander of Battenberg attempted to crack down on liberal politicians. Afraid of persecution Basanavičius left Bulgaria in May 1882. He traveled for several months, visiting Belgrade, Vienna, Lithuania, before settling down in Prague in December 1882. There he organized publication of Aušra, the first Lithuanian-language newspaper. First issue appeared in March 1883 and marked a major milestone in the Lithuanian National Revival. Basanavičius directed the editorial policies, while Jurgis Mikšas handled printing in Ragnit in East Prussia. The newspaper then would be smuggled to Lithuania as publication in Lithuanian language was illegal in the Russian Empire. Basanavičius soon lost editorial control of Aušra to Jonas Šliūpas.

In Prague Basanavičius met Gabriela Eleonora Mohl, a Bohemian German, and they married in May 1884. immediately after the wedding the couple moved to Bulgaria, where political situation had improved. Basanavičius first found a position in Elena, but managed to return to Lom Palanka in 1885. Life there was marked by a series of hardships. The Serbo-Bulgarian War brought a wave of war casualties to the hospital and a typhus epidemic. Basanavičius became seriously ill with pneumonia and typhus in February 1886. In August 1887, he survived an assassination attempt, but one bullet remained logged under his left shoulder blade for the rest of his life and caused various health issues. His attacker, Alexander Manoilov, served a ten-year sentence but never fully explained his reasoning. In February 1889, Mohl died of tuberculosis that she apparently contracted while still in Prague. The death of his wife sent Basanavičius into depression and melancholy for almost a year.

In 1891 Basanavičius acquired Bulgarian citizenship and was promoted to Varna in 1892, but his health problems intensified. He suffered from arrhythmia, neurasthenia, neuralgia, paraesthesia. That prompted him to resign from public position in 1893 and limit his work to his private practice and palace visits to Ferdinand I of Bulgaria. Basanavičius traveled to Austria several times searching for cures to his ailments. In 1900 he suffered a stroke.

In Varna, he joined the Democratic Party and was elected to the Varna City Council from 1899 to 1903. He also participated in the party congresses and helped develop party program in health care.

Return to Lithuania

In 1905, upon hearing that the Lithuanian press ban was lifted Basanavičius returned to Lithuania, and continued to play an important role in the Lithuanian national revival.

He was the main force behind Great Seimas of Vilnius, that culminated with the Act of Independence of Lithuania in 1918.

Dr. Basanavičius explored Lithuanian history, culture, folklore, ethnography and linguistics, writing more than forty works in these fields.

He died in Vilnius on February 16, 1927, Lithuanian Independence Day, and was buried in Rasos Cemetery.


16 February

Lithuania’s Independence Day

16 February 1918 was the date Lithuania declared its independence from

Imperial Russia and established its statehood

File:Signatarai.Signatories of Lithuania.jpg
The Act of Independence of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Nepriklausomybės Aktas)
or Act of February 16 was signed by the Council of Lithuania on February 16, 1918,
proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania.  

From left to right
Sitting: J. Vileišis, dr. J. Šaulys, kun. J. Staugaitis, St. Narutavičius, dr. J. Basanavičius,
A. Smetona, kan. K. Šaulys, Stp. Kairys, J. Smilgevičius.

 Standing: K. Bizauskas, J. Vailokaitis, Donatas Malinauskas, kun. Vl. Mironas, M. Biržiška,
kun. A. Petrulis, S. Banaitis, P. Klimas, A. Stulginskis, J. Šernas, Pr. Dovydaitis.

The Act of Independence of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Nepriklausomybės Aktas) or Act of February 16 was signed by the Council of Lithuania on February 16, 1918, proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania, governed by democratic principles, with Vilnius as its capital. The Act was signed by all twenty representatives, chaired by Jonas Basanavičius. The Act of February 16 was the end result of a series of resolutions on the issue, including one issued by the Vilnius Conference and the Act of January 8. The path to the Act was long and complex because the German Empire exerted pressure on the Council to form an alliance. The Council had to carefully maneuver between the Germans, whose troops were present in Lithuania, and the demands of the Lithuanian people.

The immediate effects of the announcement of Lithuania's re-establishment of independence were limited. Publication of the Act was prohibited by the German authorities, and the text was distributed and printed illegally. The work of the Council was hindered, and Germans remained in control over Lithuania. The situation changed only when Germany lost World War I in the fall of 1918. In November 1918 the first Cabinet of Lithuania was formed, and the Council of Lithuania gained control over the territory of Lithuania. Independent Lithuania, although it would soon be battling the Wars of Independence, became a reality.

While the Act's original document has been lost, its legacy continues. The laconic Act is the legal basis for the existence of modern Lithuania, both during the interwar period and since 1990. The Act formulated the basic constitutional principles that were and still are followed by all Constitutions of Lithuania. The Act itself was a key element in the foundation of Lithuania's re-establishment of independence in 1990. Lithuania, breaking away from the Soviet Union, stressed that it was simply re-establishing the independent state that existed between the world wars and that the Act never lost its legal power.

Category : Historical Lithuania


Have your say. Send to:

By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago

A wave of unity sweeps the international Lithuanian community on March 11th every year as Lithuanians celebrated the anniversary of the Lithuanian Parliament's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, the sense of national unity engendered by the celebration could be short-lived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to overgeneralize and succumb to stereotypical us-them distinctions that can shatter even the strongest bonds. We need only search the internet to find examples of divisive thinking at work:

- "50 years of Soviet rule has ruined an entire generation of Lithuanian.

- "Those who fled Lithuania during World II were cowards -- and now they come back, flaunt their wealth, and tell us 'true Lithuanians' how to live."

- "Lithuanians who work abroad have abandoned their homeland and should be deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship."

Could such stereotypical, emotionally-charged accusations be one of the main reasons why relations between Lithuania's diaspora groups and their countrymen back home have become strained?

* * *

Text: Saulene Valskyte

In Lithuania Christmas Eve is a family event and the New Year's Eve a great party with friends!
Lithuanian say "Kaip sutiksi naujus metus, taip juos ir praleisi" (the way you'll meet the new year is the way you will spend it). So everyone is trying to spend New Year's Eve with friend and have as much fun as possible.

Lithuanian New Year's traditions are very similar to those in other countries, and actually were similar since many years ago. Also, the traditional Lithuanian New Years Eve party was very similar to other big celebrations throughout the year.

The New Year's Eve table is quite similar to the Christmas Eve table, but without straws under the tablecloth, and now including meat dishes. A tradition that definitely hasn't changes is that everybody is trying not to fell asleep before midnight. It was said that if you oversleep the midnight point you will be lazy all the upcoming year. People were also trying to get up early on the first day of the new year, because waking up late also meant a very lazy and unfortunate year.

During the New Year celebration people were dancing, singing, playing games and doing magic to guess the future. People didn't drink much of alcohol, especially was that the case for women.

Here are some advices from elders:
- During the New Year, be very nice and listen to relatives - what you are during New Year Eve, you will be throughout the year.

- During to the New Year Eve, try not to fall, because if this happens, next year you will be unhappy.

- If in the start of the New Year, the first news are good - then the year will be successful. If not - the year will be problematic.

New year predictions
* If during New Year eve it's snowing - then it will be bad weather all year round. If the day is fine - one can expect good harvest.
* If New Year's night is cold and starry - look forward to a good summer!
* If the during New Year Eve trees are covered with frost - then it will be a good year. If it is wet weather on New Year's Eve, one can expect a year where many will die and dangerous epidemics occur.
* If the first day of the new year is snowy - the upcoming year will see many young people die. If the night is snowy - mostly old people will die.
* If the New Year time is cold - then Easter will be warm.
* If during New Year there are a lot of birds in your homestead - then all year around there will be many guests and the year will be fun.

* * *

* * *
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius

* * *
Ukraine won the historic
and epic battle for the
By Leonidas Donskis
Philosopher, political theorist, historian of
ideas, social analyst, and political

Immediately after Russia stepped in Syria, we understood that it is time to sum up the convoluted and long story about Ukraine and the EU - a story of pride and prejudice which has a chance to become a story of a new vision regained after self-inflicted blindness.

Ukraine was and continues to be perceived by the EU political class as a sort of grey zone with its immense potential and possibilities for the future, yet deeply embedded and trapped in No Man's Land with all of its troubled past, post-Soviet traumas, ambiguities, insecurities, corruption, social divisions, and despair. Why worry for what has yet to emerge as a new actor of world history in terms of nation-building, European identity, and deeper commitments to transparency and free market economy?

Right? Wrong. No matter how troubled Ukraine's economic and political reality could be, the country has already passed the point of no return. Even if Vladimir Putin retains his leverage of power to blackmail Ukraine and the West in terms of Ukraine's zero chances to accede to NATO due to the problems of territorial integrity, occupation and annexation of Crimea, and mayhem or a frozen conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine will never return to Russia's zone of influence. It could be deprived of the chances to join NATO or the EU in the coming years or decades, yet there are no forces on earth to make present Ukraine part of the Eurasia project fostered by Putin.

* * *
Watch this video if you
want to learn about the
new, scary propaganda
war between Russia,
The West and the
Baltic States!

* * *
90% of all Lithuanians
believe their government
is corrupt
Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries.

* * *
Lithuanian medical
students say no to
bribes for doctors

On International Anticorruption Day, the Special Investigation Service shifted their attention to medical institutions, where citizens encounter bribery most often. Doctors blame citizens for giving bribes while patients complain that, without bribes, they won't receive proper medical attention. Campaigners against corruption say that bribery would disappear if medical institutions themselves were to take resolute actions against corruption and made an effort to take care of their patients.

* * *
Doing business in Lithuania

By Grant Arthur Gochin
California - USA

Lithuania emerged from the yoke of the Soviet Union a mere 25 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has attempted to model upon other European nations, joining NATO, Schengen, and the EU. But, has the Soviet Union left Lithuania?

During Soviet times, government was administered for the people in control, not for the local population, court decisions were decreed, they were not the administration of justice, and academia was the domain of ideologues. 25 years of freedom and openness should have put those bad experiences behind Lithuania, but that is not so.

Today, it is a matter of expectation that court pronouncements will be governed by ideological dictates. Few, if any Lithuanians expect real justice to be effected. For foreign companies, doing business in Lithuania is almost impossible in a situation where business people do not expect rule of law, so, surely Government would be a refuge of competence?

Lithuanian Government has not emerged from Soviet styles. In an attempt to devolve power, Lithuania has created a myriad of fiefdoms of power, each speaking in the name of the Government, each its own centralized power base of ideology.

* * *
Greetings from Wales!
By Anita Šovaitė-Woronycz
Chepstow, Wales

Think of a nation in northern Europe whose population is around the 3 million mark a land of song, of rivers, lakes, forests, rolling green hills, beautiful coastline a land where mushrooms grow ready for the picking, a land with a passion for preserving its ancient language and culture.

Doesn't that sound suspiciously like Lithuania? Ah, but I didn't mention the mountains of Snowdonia, which would give the game away.

I'm talking about Wales, that part of the UK which Lithuanians used to call "Valija", but later named "Velsas" (why?). Wales, the nation which has welcomed two Lithuanian heads of state to its shores - firstly Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, who has paid several visits and, more recently, President Dalia Grybauskaitė who attended the 2014 NATO summit which was held in Newport, South Wales.

* * *
Read Cassandra's article HERE

Read Rugile's article HERE

Did you know there is a comment field right after every article we publish? If you read the two above posts, you will see that they both have received many comments. Also YOU are welcome with your comments. To all our articles!
* * *

Greetings from Toronto
By Antanas Sileika,
Toronto, Canada

Toronto was a major postwar settlement centre for Lithuanian Displaced Persons, and to this day there are two Catholic parishes and one Lutheran one, as well as a Lithuanian House, retirement home, and nursing home. A new wave of immigrants has showed interest in sports.

Although Lithuanian activities have thinned over the decades as that postwar generation died out, the Lithuanian Martyrs' parish hall is crowded with many, many hundreds of visitors who come to the Lithuanian cemetery for All Souls' Day. Similarly, the Franciscan parish has standing room only for Christmas Eve mass.

Although I am firmly embedded in the literary culture of Canada, my themes are usually Lithuanian, and I'll be in Kaunas and Vilnius in mid-November 2015 to give talks about the Lithuanian translations of my novels and short stories, which I write in English.

If you have the Lithuanian language, come by to one of the talks listed in the links below. And if you don't, you can read more about my work at
* * *

As long as VilNews exists,
there is hope for the future
Professor Irena Veisaite, Chairwoman of our Honorary Council, asked us to convey her heartfelt greetings to the other Council Members and to all readers of VilNews.

"My love and best wishes to all. As long as VilNews exists, there is hope for the future,"" she writes.

Irena Veisaite means very much for our publication, and we do hereby thank her for the support and wise commitment she always shows.

You can read our interview with her
* * *
Facing a new reality

By Vygaudas Ušackas
EU Ambassador to the Russian Federation

Dear readers of VilNews,

It's great to see this online resource for people interested in Baltic affairs. I congratulate the editors. From my position as EU Ambassador to Russia, allow me to share some observations.

For a number of years, the EU and Russia had assumed the existence of a strategic partnership, based on the convergence of values, economic integration and increasingly open markets and a modernisation agenda for society.

Our agenda was positive and ambitious. We looked at Russia as a country ready to converge with "European values", a country likely to embrace both the basic principles of democratic government and a liberal concept of the world order. It was believed this would bring our relations to a new level, covering the whole spectrum of the EU's strategic relationship with Russia.

* * *

The likelihood of Putin
invading Lithuania
By Mikhail Iossel
Professor of English at Concordia University, Canada
Founding Director at Summer Literary Seminars

The likelihood of Putin's invading Lithuania or fomenting a Donbass-style counterfeit pro-Russian uprising there, at this point, in my strong opinion, is no higher than that of his attacking Portugal, say, or Ecuador. Regardless of whether he might or might not, in principle, be interested in the insane idea of expanding Russia's geographic boundaries to those of the former USSR (and I for one do not believe that has ever been his goal), he knows this would be entirely unfeasible, both in near- and long-term historical perspective, for a variety of reasons. It is not going to happen. There will be no restoration of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical entity.

* * *

Are all Lithuanian energy
problems now resolved?
By Dr. Stasys Backaitis,
P.E., CSMP, SAE Fellow Member of Central and Eastern European Coalition, Washington, D.C., USA

Lithuania's Energy Timeline - from total dependence to independence

Lithuania as a country does not have significant energy resources. Energy consuming infrastructure after WWII was small and totally supported by energy imports from Russia.

First nuclear reactor begins power generation at Ignalina in 1983, the second reactor in 1987. Iganlina generates enough electricity to cover Lithuania's needs and about 50%.for export. As, prerequisite for membership in EU, Ignalina ceases all nuclear power generation in 2009

The Klaipėda Sea terminal begins Russia's oil export operations in 1959 and imports in 1994.

Mazeikiu Nafta (current ORLEAN Lietuva) begins operation of oil refinery in 1980.

* * *

Have Lithuanian ties across
the Baltic Sea become
stronger in recent years?
By Eitvydas Bajarunas
Ambassador to Sweden

My answer to affirmative "yes". Yes, Lithuanian ties across the Baltic Sea become as never before solid in recent years. For me the biggest achievement of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea region during recent years is boosting Baltic and Nordic ties. And not because of mere accident - Nordic direction was Lithuania's strategic choice.

The two decades that have passed since regaining Lithuania's independence can be described as a "building boom". From the wreckage of a captive Soviet republic, a generation of Lithuanians have built a modern European state, and are now helping construct a Nordic-Baltic community replete with institutions intended to promote political coordination and foster a trans-Baltic regional identity. Indeed, a "Nordic-Baltic community" - I will explain later in my text the meaning of this catch-phrase.

Since the restoration of Lithuania's independence 25 years ago, we have continuously felt a strong support from Nordic countries. Nordics in particular were among the countries supporting Lithuania's and Baltic States' striving towards independence. Take example of Iceland, country which recognized Lithuania in February of 1991, well in advance of other countries. Yet another example - Swedish Ambassador was the first ambassador accredited to Lithuania in 1991. The other countries followed suit. When we restored our statehood, Nordic Countries became champions in promoting Baltic integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. To large degree thanks Nordic Countries, massive transformations occurred in Lithuania since then, Lithuania became fully-fledged member of the EU and NATO, and we joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2015.

* * *

It's the economy, stupid *
By Valdas (Val) Samonis,

n his article, Val Samonis takes a comparative policy look at the Lithuanian economy during the period 2000-2015. He argues that the LT policy response (a radical and classical austerity) was wrong and unenlightened because it coincided with strong and continuing deflationary forces in the EU and the global economy which forces were predictable, given the right policy guidance. Also, he makes a point that LT austerity, and the resulting sharp drop in GDP and employment in LT, stimulated emigration of young people (and the related worsening of other demographics) which processes took huge dimensions thereby undercutting even the future enlightened efforts to get out of the middle-income growth trap by LT. Consequently, the country is now on the trajectory (development path) similar to that of a dog that chases its own tail. A strong effort by new generation of policymakers is badly needed to jolt the country out of that wrong trajectory and to offer the chance of escaping the middle-income growth trap via innovations.

* * *

Have you heard about the
South African "Pencil Test"?
By Karina Simonson

If you are not South African, then, probably, you haven't. It is a test performed in South Africa during the apartheid regime and was used, together with the other ways, to determine racial identity, distinguishing whites from coloureds and blacks. That repressive test was very close to Nazi implemented ways to separate Jews from Aryans. Could you now imagine a Lithuanian mother, performing it on her own child?

But that is exactly what happened to me when I came back from South Africa. I will tell you how.

* * *
Click HERE to read previous opinion letters >

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