Lithuanian Easter is called Velykos. Lithuanians generally follow the Roman Catholic faith, and Easter is one of the most important days of the year. It also welcomes springtime and colorful eggs, Easter palms, and seasonal foods make the holiday extra special. Some traditions are similar to those in Poland, given that the two countries share a religion as well as history as a result of their shared borders and influences. However, visitors to Lithuania will notice some particular ways in which Easter in this Baltic nation is observed with folk customs and Easter crafts.
Marguciai – Lithuanian Eastern Eggs
Lithuanian Easter eggs, called marguciai, are decorated using the wax-resist method or by scratching a design onto a dyed egg using a sharp tool. The tear-drop-shaped markings of wax-decorated Easter eggs are often indicative of eggs from Lithuania—though this design method appears in other cultures, it is most widely practiced in this Baltic nation. Families enjoy the tradition of painting Easter eggs and games are played with the eggs around the springtime holidays.
In Lithuania, an Easter Granny has been traditionally responsible for distributing Easter eggs (though she may be aided by bunnies). She visits children and gifts them with Easter eggs, hiding them in baskets or nests placed in the yard.
Though traditional egg-decorating techniques continue to be practiced in Lithuania, for small children, commercial egg-decorating kits with non-toxic dyes, stickers, and egg sleeves are sometimes used. Fluffy bunnies and commercial Easter candies are also popular.
Verbos – Easter Palms
Lithuanian Easter palms, known as verbos, are elaborately woven stalks of dried flowers and leaves used in the Easter ritual. These beautiful symbols of springtime can be found at markets, and some designs are representative of particular regions of Lithuania. The verbos are uses as decoration in homes, are used to “beat” others for good luck, and are taken to church to be blessed on palm Sunday, much like the similar Polish tradition. Verbos are sold in magnificent array during Kaziuko Muge, the early-march fair during which vendors fill the streets of Old Town Vilnius for a weekend and where Easter eggs, verbos, and other crafts and foods are sold.
Easter is a day of feasting and includes foods important to Lithuanian culture. The foods are sometimes blessed at a church before they are eaten, and may include ham, sausage, cheese, butter, and bread. The velykos pyragas is also sometimes eaten. A lamb made of butter sometimes graces the Easter table, and sweet rolls with poppy seeds and honey cakes serve as dessert.
Sometimes, a hard-boiled egg is cut into pieces and the egg is shared among the family members eating the Easter dinner, which encourages strong ties among relatives and peace among family members.
Singers at Easter, comparable to Christmas carolers, maintain the tradition of singing holiday hymns. In the past, Easter singers visited neighboring households in exchange for food and Easter eggs. This tradition was a way in which unmarried women of the household could display their Easter egg-decorating skills and impress the young men who went caroling. Today, Easter concerts often take the place of Easter carol singing: large and small venues arrange season-appropriate music and performances to celebrate the holiday as well as spring.
Easter is a lovely time in Lithuania, one that emphasized the closeness of family, religious practices, long-standing folk rituals, and a transition from winter to spring.