Lithuanians start celebrating Christmason the 24th of December and this dayis called Christmas Eve/Kūčios.According to our traditions, in themorning all family members do thechores, then have a bath or washthemselves in the bathhouse and thussymbolically get rid not only ofimpurities but also of evil and ilnesses.In the evening, after having veryscarce meal in the daytime or nothingat all, everybody sits by the ChristmasEve table.
Lithuanian Santa Claus is called Kalėda and he is depicted in Lithuanian folk songs as coming from far-away countries in his carriage and bringing silver rings for girls, bags full of nuts,sweets and other presents.
A symbol of deer with nine horns is important in Lithuanian Christmas traditions-it is thought to defeat winter and symbolize the spring which is to come.
Christmas-family celebration and joy for children
Christmas is usually celebrated for three days in Lithuania. The first day of Christmas is considered most sacred and, therefore, all unnecessary work is avoided. People make predictions on the harvest and weather of the coming year.If It is cold on Christmas day it means that there will be late spring and Easter with snow. If it snows on Christmas day , there will be lots of mice which may do harm to the crops.If it is sunny on this day, the coming year will be prosperous. Christmas greetings and wishes have a magical meaning and their words have very strong power. It is believed in Lithuania that these words are even stronger if you dress yourself as a stranger, animal or mythical being.
The unique straw ornaments, so typical of Lithuanian Christmas trees today, have an interesting origin. Once a wife of the Lithuanian Consul in Chicago was asked to decorate a Christmas tree with Lithuanian ornaments as part of international Christmas tree exhibition in Chicago.She came up with the idea to use ornaments made of straw. She made it in different shapes:stars, chains, snowflakes, bird cages, bells, towers etc. The Lithuanian Christmas tree with its distinctive white ornaments became a great hit at the exhibition and straw Christmas tree ornaments have become a Lithuanian tradition.