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The origins of Easter
Easter is one of the most beautiful and the most important spring holidays in Lithuania, which is inseparable from the brightly colored palms, the colored eggs, the twigs of flowering trees. Every family has its own Easter traditions, but do you know where it all started? Interestingly, today’s celebration is associated not only with the awakening of nature. It also reflects the joy of spring, old traditions with a family. Baltic Tours invites you to learn more about the festive rituals of Easter and their origin in Lithuania.
Celebration of Easter
The Easter celebration itself begins the week before Easter on Palm Sunday during which the palms are sanctified by the priest: willow twigs, juniper twigs, dried flowers on a stick. After Palm Sunday follows the great week, during which people are trying to be serious and not to argue with each other. On holy Thursday Lithuanian households clean their home to prepare for Easter Sunday. Great Friday is day of rest, peace and atonement for sins. While, Saturday is meant for egg painting and colouring, as well visiting Church to bless eggs, water, bread, fire and other Easter dishes. On Sunday families have breakfast and dinner together. Obviously, they always start with an egg and other blessed foods at the church.
When it comes to Easter symbols, perhaps the most important one is painted egg. In many cultures, religions, and interpretations, the egg is considered a symbol of new life and rebirth. This is perfect interpretation for Easter, as spring is waking up and nature is reborn. It was believed in Lithuania that a broken egg would boost the harvest and fertility, as well help to heal.
Egg painting is one of the oldest Easter traditions in Lithuania. This tradition was followed even in ancient Egypt as the colors and ornaments had a magical and symbolic meaning. With the advent of Christianity, egg coloring became a beautiful family tradition for Lithuanians. However, in Soviet times these traditions had to be hidden. In modern times the whole family on Great Saturday sits down and paints or decorate eggs with different techniques like hot wax, onion shells, stickers, flowers and herbs. On Easter Sunday, everyone in the family prepares festive table, painted eggs and shares with a guest, relatives and especially children. The most important thing during the day is to eat as many eggs as you can as it brings healing properties.
Eggs are the main food of the Easter holiday table, there is no doubt about it, but Lithuanians eat more than that on Easter Sunday. Most of them on the festive Easter breakfast table put a variety of cold dishes: eggs and dishes made from them, freshly baked bread, hams and sausages, salads, various sandwiches, and Easter cakes like “Boba” – a traditional Easter cake or cakes with curd.
Traditional Easter dishes in Lithuania used to be roast pork with greens, a lamb, and even a whole pork head. Today less people eat or cook that during Easter. Lithuanians simplify recipes and adapt food trends from other countries like fried goose as one of the hot dishes during celebration.
No Lithuanian Easter with family members passes without Easter games. During the Easter holidays, it is accepted to play a variety of Easter games, most of which are based on eggs. The most popular Easter games in Lithuania are egg hunting, which is usually played by children outside. Then, egg roll through a specially made crib and egg fighting that involves children, young and old alike. The essence of the game is to find out who knows how to choose the strongest egg and to have fun with their families.
As most of the countries in the world have Easter bunny, Lithuania has Easter granny. Easter granny is a pagan legacy rooted in the Christian holiday. Lithuanians believed that during Easter, the grandmother visits the house and the children in it. She brings the eggs of gifts for the good children, which she made in the woods herself. She hides eggs and presents at home, outdoors or in prepared places for that – in holes and nests, to create fun atmosphere for adults and children. Everyone must look for it to get entertained.
Probably only a few people know that Easter has a tree! The tree is artificially made from tied spruce twigs with a nest for 9 or 12 eggs. The numbers were considered magical and eggs from this tree were believed to bring happiness and success. Of course, such a tree was still decorated with lilac kittens, paper flowers, and bird-shaped cookies.
Need to know!
Among all the most important annual holidays, Easter occupies a high place in Lithuania. There are two universal days of unemployment every year – Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. In 2022 Easter will be 17th-18th April During those days Lithuania offer a lot of exhibitions, attractions and souvenirs like decorated eggs, national crafts and Easter palms. It’s a perfect time to learn more!
Do you want to learn and experience traditional Lithuanian Easter? Check out Baltic Tours featured tours in Lithuania.