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 ssventu 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 iit 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 wwould 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 ttradition 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 yyear. 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.
Christmas Day In England
On Christmas day many families wake up early to attend church. After church they come home and open their presents aand see what Santa has put in their stocking. After all these festivities they come together for Christmas Dinner. The traditional Christmas dinner consists of roast turkey, goose or chicken with stuffing and roasted potatoes. The next course includes mince pies and Christmas pudding flaming with brandy. Sometime in this pudding parents hide coins and lucky charms for the children. This pudding is very special and it is usually made weeks in advance and stirred by each family member while they make a holiday wish. For dessert they serve a special Christmas cake. It is very rich and includes marzipan, icing and sugar frosting.
*The Pulling Of Crackers*
Christmas Crakers often accompany food on Christmas dinner. Invented by a London Baker in 1846. The cracker is a brightly coloured paper tube, twisted at both ends. It contains a party hat, riddle, and a toy. when pulled by two people it cracks and the contents fall out.
*Listening To The Queen*
After a full day of celebrating Christmas many falimies watch or listen to the Queen. Every year she delivers a Christmas Message to the Nation.
The day after Christmas is know as Boxing Day in Britain. It takes its name from a former ttradition of giving a Christmas Box. In the box was a gift of money or food. They would gives these to the deliverymen and tradespeople who called regularly during the year. This tradition survives in the custom or tipping the milkman, postman,dustmen, and other callers of goodservice at Christmas time.
CHRISTMAS IN OUR HOUSE
As a young boy growing up on a small farm in Victory County, New Brunswick, Canada, I never gave it much thought about some of our Christmas Traditions and where they came from until just lately.
There weren’t many, but they were there some and without realizing it I have carried some of them over into my family.
Were they British or Isle of Man Traditions? I have no way of knowing, but sure believe they were from what we know today as the old country.
Well before Christmas there was a plum pudding made and it had to be British for I have never tasted one since that tasted as good as it did. It was always wrapped in some sort of cloth and was stored away for days. On Christmas day a special sauce was made and my father tasted it to see that it was just right.
Apple and mincemeat pies were a must also.
Some of the other things that we did: our gifts were not opened until we all had a good hearty breakfast and at Christmas dinner we would always sit together and father would say the blessing.
We were reminded that it was a day for our Lord and certain games were not allowed to be played.
I am sure there were more. I am glad that I have carried them on for it is always aa time for me to remember my parents and how much they passed on to me.