Opportunities to D evelop I ntercultural C ommunication for T eachers in Lithuania Prepared by Dalia Česnauskienė
Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania , is a country in Northern Europe, the southernmost of the three Baltic states. Situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, it shares borders with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland, and the Russian exclave of Kaliningra d to the southwest. Across the Balti c Sea to the west lie Sweden and Denmark. Its population is 3.2 million. Its capital and largest city is Vilnius.
The centre of Europe is in Lithuania! In 1989, researchers of the French National Geographical Institute found that Europe’s geographical centre was in Lithuania, 26 km westwards from capital Vilnius. The fact of the geographical centre of Europe is registered in the Guinness Book of World Records.
When the European Union had to choose the first European Capital of Culture from one of the ‘new’ EU member states . The year 2009 has been special not only for Vilnius but also for the rest of the country: Lithuania celebrated its millenium anniversary, as the name Lithuania was first mentioned in the monastic annals ( Annals of Quedlinburg ) in 1009.
The route for getting to know Lithuania, runs through its ethnographic regions, which are withnesses of culture, history, traditions, and lifestyle. The borders of the five historically formed ethnoligraphic regions of Lithuania – Auk štaitija (Highlands), Žemaitija (Samogitia), Dzūkija (or Dainava – Land of Songs), Suvalkija (Sudovia), and Mažoji Lietuva (Lithuania Minor) – are currently marked according to borders of administrative elderships, although the regions maintained their distinction in clothing, folklore, cuisine, and architecture until the end of the 19 th and begging of the 20 th century.
Today all the ethnographic regions of Lithuania, apart from traditional historic attributes and lingual differences, are famous for their outstanding cultural objects and events. May this introduction of regions – with a few objects of history, traditions, culture, and works of eminent artist – be guidlines for learning about Lithuania culture or simbols that represent the abundant riches of culture yet to be discovered by you.
Traditional textiles and national costumes of this region are mostly decorated with vivid and bright colours. Ancient traditional sutartin ė (glee) is sung in Highlands. These songs have reserved their archaic musical and poetic form. The glees are an exceptional phenomenon not only in Lithuanian folklore but also in the world. Fricative instrumental polyphony performed by skudu čiai (multi-pipe whistles), ragai (horns), and kankl ės (Lithuanian stringed instrument) was just as distinctive to Highlanders as the vocal music.
is considered to be the capital of Samogitia. Among the ethnic groups of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was Samogitia alone that enjoined the rights of an independent eldership valid almost for 400 years. In the 19 th – 20 th century, the conception of Samogitia formed on the basic of Samogitian dialect within the area of residence of its people.
Samogitia is famous for its monuments of small architecture. In the 19 th century and the first half of the 20 th century, there was an abundance of wooden shrines mounted on the ground or hung on trees, which are characteristic for this region alone, as well as koplytstulpis (wooden polls with shrines), stogastulpis (wooden crosses with little roofs), and crosses decorated with polychrome figures of Saints.
centre of Sudovia is Marijampol ė . Due to serfdom
being abolished in this region earlier than in other regions, fertile soil favourable for agriculture as well as the diligence of the people – which is even ridiculed – allowed the residents of the region to become the wealthiest farmers of Lithuania during the 19 th – 20 th . Educated people from this region contributed much during this especially important period of Lithuanian history, establishing and legalizing the state of Lithuania.
The traditional employment o f Sudovia people is agriculture. Songs of Sudovia are mostly performed in unison. Improvisational Pentecost songs of herds are an unique genre, which is particular only to Sudovia. Besides, Sudovia has an unique style chordophones. Shirts of Sudovia woman were distinct by loose and crinkled sleeves and their splendour, while their skirts were crinkled and decorated with vertical stripes.
Lithuania between the Nemunas and the Neris rivers. In the 13 th century this was the location of Dainava land. The name Dzūkija emerged in 19 th century in Lithuanian literature due to the peculiar dialect of the Dzūkija people.
Dzūkija is the woodest region of Lithuania thus wood has been the main source of subsistence of many people since long ago. Mushrooms from Dzūkija and forest berries are still the main source of income for these people. All ancient businesses have remained untill now: Dzūkija people are first-class woodworkers, potters, blacksmiths, weavers from twigs and wooden chips, wooden carvers, and black ceramics craftsmen.
Textiles of Dzūkija are often decorated with leaves and flowers – its seems that textile artists wanted to convey the surrounding beauty this way. Since long ago Dzūkija is regarded as the land of songs. Traditional music of this region is distinctive and has an incredible variety of melody tipes, tunes, rhythms, forms and performing methods.
In the 16 th century through 1918 the current Kaliningrad region (Russian Federation) was also named Lithuania Minor. This part of Lithuania Minor is the birthplace of Lithuanian written works: the first Lithuanian book, the first Lithuanian grammar, and the first book of collected songs were printed here. The first Lithuanian group of regional studies was also established here and at the end of the 19 th century – the first periodic publications were printed in this part of Lithuania as well.
The most archaic part of the land’s heritage is represented by wooden folk architecture. Houses ar e distinguished by impressive decorations including ornamentally carved weathervanes crowned with pairs of small žirgelis (horses). In ancient times people used to believe that žirgelis protects against evil.
We Lithuanians love Lithuania, a country situated at the geographical centre of Europe, washed by the Baltic Sea, covered with dense forests and meandering rivers and lakes, respectful of its traditions, proud of the Lithuanian language, nurturing its UNESCO world heritage sites, and open to innovations. Visit Lithuania and fall in love with our country.