Christmas celebrations begin on Christmas Eve. It is the customary for the family to gather for mealtime around dusk where the table has been decorated with hay covered by a white linen tablecloth. A white candle is lit and prayers of thanksgiving are recited
Christmas eve is a more important day in Lithuania than Christmas day. In the evening on Christmas Eve families gathers together and have a big dinner with 12 special dishes. It’s necessary to have 12 dishes because they represent the 12 moths of the year or the 12 disciples of Jesus. All dishes must be without fat, milk, butter and meat, because it’s the last day of fasting. Usually people make dishes with fish (especially Herring) grains, green peas and mushrooms. It’s necessary to have some jelly. The main dish for Christmas Eve is kuciukai – little cookies made from made from paste with yeast. They are eaten with milk made from poppy seed. After the meal each family member pulls a piece of hay from under the tablecloth to see who will live the longest and how many children they will have. Christmas Eve legends and traditions claim that water in wells becomes wine at midnight and animals can talk. It’s very dangerous to hear what they are saying because, according to superstition you will die within the year. If u are able to taste the water when it changes to wine. It’s said that u will be lucky throughout the year.
Before going to bed a single plate is left on the table to ensure that family members who have died will have plenty to eat when their souls visit that night. Many of the legends and mysterious tales come from the day when Lithuania was a pagan country.
On next day we celebrate Christmas. It honors the birth of Jesus Christ ad is celebrated be Christians all over the world. Nowadays in Lithuania preparations for Christmas begin in the middle of November when shop windows are decorated with Christmas ornaments such as colorful streamers, silver tinsel and golden or silver bells. Furthermore, this is the time when everyone begins to feel the special Christmas spirit and starts to look for presents for their relatives, especially for children, for family member and for their close friends. To wider circle of friends and relatives they send Christmas cards. People also buy Christmas trees almost every family decorates tree in a different way. The decorations mostly are made of glass. Little children believe that there is Christmas father who comes down the chimney on the night of Christmas Eve and brings presents. Most families put presents around or under the Christmas tree and these are opened on the first Christmas day in the morning. On the second day of Christmas people usually meet their relatives and friends.