Lithuanian Easter traditions in the past

marguciai

marguciai

The word for Easter, Velykos, has been borrowed from Beylorussian and means “important day.” The word is very accurate because Easter was the year’s most solem feast in Lithuania. Easter is not only the feast of Christ’s Resurrection, but also nature’s awakening from winter’s sleep.

In Lithuania the Easter morning procession was usually conducted around the church. It was very solemn: church flags were held high, girls strewed flowers, the choir and all the people sang, alternating with a brass band, and the church bells pealed loudly. At the conclusion of the liturgy in church, the people hurried home. At home, Easter breakfast was eaten. The meal began when the homemaker peeled a blest Easter egg, cut it and gave a piece to every member of the family. This was done so that peace and love would always reign within the family and everyone would live in harmony. On Easter it was necessary to eat well and to satiety, to “recover from Lent” because of the fast all through Lent.

Children hunted for hidden Easter eggs left them by the Velykų Senelė (Easter Granny) or Velykė. The Easter Granny travels around the country, stopping in every child’s yard to leave eggs in baskets placed or hung for that purpose. A variety of games were played with Easter eggs. The simplest is an egg-breaking contest. Two players face off, each holding an Easter egg and hit each other’s egg. The one whose egg remains intact is the winner.

If guests arrive on Easter, they were given Easter eggs as gifts. The guests also brought an Easter egg for each family member (or at least the hosts and sweets for the children). Everyone who arrived to extend Easter greetings must be served. It was considered very impolite for the guest to refuse refreshment.