Christmas in Lithuania
Almost everyone in Lithuania has a Christmas tree in their home which is decorated with electric lights and ornaments purchased in the store. There are some people who still follow the old traditions and use hand crafted ornaments to decorate the tree. It is done especially if the family has little children who like to make ornaments from paper or something else in order to put them on the branches of the tree.
Christmas music includes „Linksmu sventu Kaledu“ (We Wish You A Merry Christmas) and „Tyli naktis“ (Silent Night). One Lithuanian folk song for Christmas is „Kaledu ryta“ which means „On the Morning of Christmas.“
After Lithuania became independent from Russia in 1990 people started celebrating Christmas again and giving gifts to children for Christmas. Previously, gifts were given for the New Year. During the first period after gaining independence, Lithuanian children wanted to get gifts twice – for Christmas and then for New Year as it was before. Fortunately, parents were smart and they chose just one occasion – Christmas Eve. The gift-bringer is called Kaledu senis or „Father Christmas.“ When gifts were brought for New Year the same character was called Senis Saltis what would mean Father Frost. Kucios or 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 months of the year. 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 is necessary to have some jelly. The main dish for Kucios is kuciukai – little cookies made from paste with yeast. They are eaten with milk made from poppy seeds. On Christmas day, it is an old Lithuanian tradition to eat some meat and some cakes. You can eat whatever you want because the fasting is over. Christmas Eve legends and traditions claim that the 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 you are able to taste the water when it changes to wine, it is said that you will be lucky throughout the year. Many of the legends and mysterious tales come from the days when Lithuania was a pagan country. It’s very popular to exchange Christmas cards with relatives, friends and co-workers. Before it was popular to send the cards for New Year, now people are sending one combined card for both festivals – Christmas and New Year.
An English Christmas
Firsts in England
The most famous first I would like to mention that came from England was the Christmas card. The first ever Christmas card was posted in England in the 1840’s. Another very important item that was popularized by England was the Christmas tree. Prince Albert and Queen Victoria brought one into the Royal Household in 1840 as well.
Popluar Pre-Christmas Events
Many children in England preform pantomimes. These are song and dance dramatisations or well-know fairy tales. Another popular event taking place is the singing of carols on Christmas Eve. Groups of singers go door to door and walk down the street singing to their neighbors and friends. All the while children are hanging their stockings up for Santa Claus.