Easter is always a sure sign of spring. In Lithuania, it’s a holiday that has deep-rooted traditions that date back to Pagan times, when it was a celebration of the earth’s awakening. Even though nowadays Easter is a church holiday, it’s still full of that same spring cheer. To make the most of the holiday, here are five things you can do to celebrate like a local.
The traditional technique uses wax and produces some very impressive patterns. The eggs are first covered in hot wax using a narrow strip of metal. The more intricate the pattern, the better. Later, the eggs are dyed and the wax is removed, uncovering the pattern it left behind. The Lithuanian name for dyed Easter eggs is margučiai – derived from the adjective meaning ‘colourful’.
Legend has it that on Easter night children are visited by the Easter granny, known as Velykė in Lithuanian. She travels around on a sleigh pulled by bunnies and leaves presents for good children: colourful eggs or cookies in the form of animals. Lately, she has also been reported to resort to chocolate eggs.
On the first day of Easter the whole family gets together for a real feast. Meat is always on the menu and there are delicious sausages and smoked meats that you can get at any market in Vilnius – just like the locals do. Another staple is the Velykų Boba – an Easter cake made from yeast dough.
Once the family’s bellies are full of holiday delights, people traditionally take to playing some Easter games. Easter egg rolling is something uniquely Lithuanian. Players prop a rounded chute made of wood or cardboard at an angle from the ground. In turn, they roll eggs down the chute attempting to tap another’s egg. If they succeed in this, they claim both eggs. The player with the most eggs at the end of the game wins.
On the second day of Easter, people typically visit extended family and friends. There are also numerous concerts that you can find in town, because Easter Monday has always been a time to have fun. Act like a local and enjoy the day, even if only by taking a relaxing walk in central town – something you’ll see many families doing.