23 Dec 2016

Christmas Eve Traditions in My Family


Christmas, without a doubt, is the biggest holiday of the year. But for me personally, it's the Christmas Eve that I'm looking forward the most, and since it's tomorrow (!!!), I just want to tell you what makes it so special to me.



First of all, I was born and grew up in the village (I am sure that for those who follow my blog for a while this is nothing new). Village people tend to hold on the old traditions more strongly than those who live in the cities (no offence). As for myself, as long as I remember, Christmas Eve was regarded with importance and there were some serious preparations for it in my family. 
  Christmas Eve can be regarded as the saying of good-bye to the old year celebration, since it completed the old agricultural cycle. There were lots and lots of old beliefs that concerned the Christmas Eve. This was the special time of the year, when people tried prophetic spells and searched for signs of what's going to happen. This celebration also belongs to the ones related with the deceased, that's why after Christmas Eve dinner we leave everything on the table as it is, since the spirits of the dead will come to feast (sorry, but my inner ethnologist just couldn't leave you there without this "deeper" explanation). 


One of the key elements to Lithuanian Christmas Eve - it's food. There must be twelve dishes, as there were twelve apostles or, in the more older version, as there is months in the year. Food must be prepared WITHOUT any fat, milk, meat, etc. So it's basically all kinds of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, honey and so on. My mom cooks the fish and prepares some salad, my sister is usually responsible for kissel (kisielius in Lithuanian) - a delicious drink/dessert from berry juice and starch. My duty is to bake kūčiukai - crunchy pastry bits with poppy seeds (see picture below).


Christmas Eve is one of those rare chances for my family to meet. It feels really cozy to be with everybody whom I love so much! (Sorry for not the best quality of my pictures, I promise to take better ones this year!)


After you taste all 12 dishes (it's the rule!), there's some time for divinations! Since I am married, there are not many things I can inquire about, but my sister still has to try counting the handful of nuts (if it's even number - that's a good sign), or try to listen from which side the dogs bark (from that side the groom, according to the traditions, should appear), or hug a fence (if there's the even number of sticks in what she embraced - that's also good!). So, as you see, the scope of divinations is wide, but mainly concerned with the search of the significant other. 


There's also the drawing of the straw from under the tablecloth (you put the hey before the tablecloth) and the longer - the better, and it if has some leaves on it - that's the best you can hope for! Long straw symbolizes the long life and leaves - richness. 


You can also melt the wax and pour it into water, afterwards - you guess the shapes and try to explain what it means. That's a fun game now, but few decades ago it was still regarded as serious business!

How do you celebrate Christmas Eve in your family? Are there some particular traditions or you adopted new ones? It would be very interesting to know!

Have a peaceful and bright Christmas Eve, guys!



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