Skip to comments.Lithuanian Christmas Traditions
Posted on 12/23/2006 11:03:55 AM PST by balticbeau
On Christmas Eve the house must be thoroughly cleaned, all the bed linens changed and all family members must bathe and don clean clothes before the evening meal. For the Christmas Eve dinner, the table is prepared as follows: a handfull of fine hay is spread evenly on the table. This is a reminder that Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger on hay. The table is then covered with a pure white tablecloth, set with plates and decorated with candles and fir boughs. Live flowers are inappropriate for the table, in particular red or white poinsettias which are so popular in some countries at Christmastime. A small plate with as many Christmas wafers as there are persons present is placed in the center of the table. In some Lithuanian regions these wafers were called God's cakes (Dievo pyragai) for they were obtained from the parish and were imprinted with Biblical scenes of Jesus' birth. Although plotkele was the popular and better known term, the word is borrowed from the Slavic. It is better to say paplotelis, plokstainelis or even Dievo pyragas.
All family members make an effort to come home for the Christmas Eve supper, even from a distance. Perhaps not so much for the meal as for the sacred family ritual which draws the family members closer, banding everyone and strengthening warm family ties. If a family member has died that year or cannot attend the meal (only for very serious reasons) an empty place is left at the table...
(Excerpt) Read more at neris.mii.lt ...
Thanks so much for this. I am Lithuanian on the maternal side. Until just a few years ago, we had only seafood on Christmas Eve. It has always been our big celebration, not on Christmas Day. We do, however, have the exotic seafood! We still do not have turkey, ham or roast but have added lasagna recently.
We also do the wafer thing although not in the order prescribed in the link. It's just kind of a free for all after my father prays.
My favorite line, "Children whining should be ignored!"
Am passing this on to the family!
"Children whining should be ignored" is a great way to deal with a lot of children, even grown children.
Thank you very much for sharing this. I really enjoyed reading it and passed it on to my daughter who is studying in Uppsala, Sweden for her junior year. She hopes to travel to Lithuania in the Spring and this will help her understand the culture there.
BTW, I was much amused by the admonition that "Children whining that they do not like and are unaccustomed to such food should also be ignored." This seems uncessarily cruel. Shouldn't they take the little darlings to McDonalds to get them a yummy treat that they would like to eat rather than being forced to eat traditional holiday foods? ;>)
Anybody remember the Schmenge brothers from the old SCTV show? They had a Christmas Special featuring the Christmas traditions of their made-up homeland of Leutonia.
These traditions are familiar to me especially 'Kucios'.
I remember them well from my parents and grandparents!
Thanks. My Dziadek was born in Lietvak as he called it.
,,, a lack of meat in the courses served reminds me of no meat on Fridays during the run up to easter. Thanx for posting this article - it's good to see how other countries work things out for different occasions. Have a great Christmas!
I'm a little late, but interesting post :)
i appreciated your post as well. my maternal grandparents were both from Lithuania and we observed many of the traditions, i remember some lithuanian words etc. My grandparents passed on before i had children and i regret my kids not having access to that side of their family.