Christmas in Lithuania
Christmas in Lithuania

Flavors of Lithuania

Christmas Lithuania

Joyeux Noël!" se dit en lituanien "Linksmų Šventų Kalėdų!"
"Bonne année" se dit "Laimingų Naujųjų Metų!"

As the days draw shorter, Lithuanians have finished most needed chores and are ready to celebrate Christmas Eve, December 24th, and Christmas, December 25th. Christmas Eve is a very special time with the gathering of the family at the ritual meal "kucia". This word has been borrowed from the Greek "kukkia", denoting the main food of the ritual supper, made from grain and pulses.

The evening meal begins when the evening star appears in the sky. A white, linen tablecloth is placed on a hay-covered table. Hay symbolizes the birth of Jesus in the manger and also the hay, where the souls of dead family members rest on.

Holy wafers and Christmas bread are placed side by side in the center of the table. These are surrounded by other foods, of which there can be seven, nine or twelve, all meatless. Twelve foods are most commonly prepared, to assure that the coming year, twelve months, will be good and plentiful.

The traditional kucia - porridge, is eaten with poppy seed milk, as are the Christmas biscuits. It is a must to eat oatmeal pudding with sweetened water.

Christmas in Lithuania 1

The other foods include beet soup with dried mushrooms, fish - mostly pike, herring and mushroom dishes, as well as apples and nuts, cranberry pudding and dried fruit compote. When all the foods are in place, candles are placed on the table and lit, and the family is seated. A special place is set at the table for a family member who died during that year. It is also tradition to invite a poor or homeless person, or to take food to them. This behavior assures that there will be happiness in the family throughout the coming year.

Eating is begun with the passing around of the Christmas wafer and with wishes for each member, then all the foods have to be tasted.

Christmas morning begins with the clearing away of the Christmas Eve table. Christmas foods are mainly of meat, generally pork, cooked pig’s head, sausages, baked piglet and ham. There is also an assortment of sweet breads and cakes.

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