Editor's note: This delightful article was submitted last year by Saulenė, an I Love Lithuania member from Vilnius.The article explains the 12 Dishes of Christmas, a long-standing Lithuanian tradition, and goes on to describe Christmas games that are also tradition. Click the links to read descriptions of certain dishes. Enjoy!
Christmas is my favorite time of the year, so I decided to share some of my family Christmas traditions and answer some questions (sorry for my english-I'm lithuanian and not very good in english). My family has very traditional Christmas eve supper.
The reason why we celebrate Kūčių vakarienę (christmas eve supper) after sunset is because in Lithuania in winter is getting dark very early (now is 5pm and it's already dark).
Everything starts with making food all day long. We do not have any meat on Christmas eve table (actually you shouldn't be eating meat from the beginning of Advent until Christmas morning with an exception of children and sick people), but we do only Christmas eve supper. One more thing about Advent- we are fired candles in the window (first week of Advent-one, second-two and so on until the Christmas eve). there should be twelve dishes on the table (it's very hard and we always have a bit more:) ). Some of traditional dishes are: kūčiukai [pastries], silkė [herring] (many different versions), kisielius, aguonų pienas [poppy seed milk]. We also have this white pastry that you can get in church we call it "plotkelė" (one for each member of the family).
In the very beginning of supper we pray and then breaking plotkelė with each other and say what we wish for others. And then we eat-you must to try every dish on the table. There also have to be one empty place on the table for family members that have passed (chair, plate and everything) and we leave that plate with some food over night for spirit.
Games and magic after supper:)
Lithuanian Christmas traditions are very mixed with pagan rituals.
Draw a straw
We put some straws under the tablecloth before supper and after meal everyone draw a straw. Length of the straw shows how long your life will be (it changes every year) :)
Pour wax (my favorite)
take a candle from table (the ones that were burning all night long) and pour the wax from them in to the water bowl without moving your hand around (hand has to remain steady while pouring wax). After wax became hard take it from the bowl and turn it, you will see this strangely shaped figure. Give that figure to the oldest member of the family to explain for you what he/she sees in it and what is waiting for you in the future. Be creative!
this is game for single girls. Put your hand in to the bowl with Kučiukai and grab as many as you can, then put them on the table. If the number is even-you will find a guy, if not -you will remain single this year.
Those games we are doing every Christmas. Here some that I know, but never tried:
Pick up firewoods
It's very similar to Draw Kūčiukai. Go to the place were you are keeping woods and take as many logs as you can. Than count it, if number is even you woun't be single this year if not-you will remain single.
Glass of water
Before going to sleep eat as much herring or just fish as you can, and put a glass of water next to your bed. In your dream, guy will hand you that water and he will became yours husband one day.
This is how my family celebrates Christmas eve. I'm sorry for my bad english, hope you are able to understand what I wrote. And I also hope that you like it and maybe picked some ideas for yours celebration. Please ask if you have any questions I'll be happy to help.