The Easter is coming. People are already preparing homes and make plans for the Easter celebration. I know there are many countries that will not celebrate Easter this coming Sunday, but also many Christian countries will celebrate. Each country has its own traditions, unique culture, customs, and even if we celebrate the same religious holiday, we still celebrate a bit differently, according to old traditions and Ester customs.
As the preparations are on the way now, I decided to tell you about Easter celebration and Easter customs and traditions in Lithuania, my native country.
When the Easter is approaching, many people start to think, where to get time for proper preparation - after all, everything needs to be done - to clean the house (before Easter it is necessary to throw away the things that are not used anymore in the house and only burden the aura), and to buy food, and to make as many dishes as possible for the festive table, and you should not forget the main Easter table attribute - the painted eggs.
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The Easter celebration
The holy week and Easter, the most beautiful holiday in the spring, is knocking already in the house of every Christian. The main symbol of the feast - the painted Easter eggs were associated with the resurrection and a new life in the pagan times. Christians have transposed this symbol into their religion by linking it with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The week before Easter is called the Great or Holy. It starts on Verb's Sunday. This day is celebrated Christ's entry to Jerusalem who was met by waving palm branches and singing praises. In Lithuania, the palm branches are most often changed to the juniper branches as we have not palm here, but in each region, the juniper is enriched with other greenery: willow, sweet olive, or the like.
Painted Easter Eggs - Photo credit: kaunas.kasvyksta.lt
The Maundy Thursday evening is dedicated to the Last Supper. That evening, Christ had the last time having dinner with his disciples, he was issued and arrested, so this day is very important for priests, mentioning the establishment of the priesthood. It is the establishment of the Eucharist and transferring it to the disciples. Usually, according to the old Lithuanian tradition, the bells, organs are getting silent after the evening's workshop in all churches, and everybody concentrates on Good Friday already.
That evening, Christ not only ate the last supper with his disciples but also washed their legs - this exchange of roles speaks of the importance of sacrifice and humiliation. Sometimes it's associated with inner purification. Perhaps because of this reason, the housewives call this day also the Thursday cleanliness and connect it not only to the interior but also with the external purge - they try to perfect the house, wash windows, walk around all corners, ventilate rooms, and replace bedding.
Maundy Thursday - Photo credit: kursenuparapija.lt
The Good Friday
The Good Friday is the day of Christ's Passion and Death. This is the only day of the year when Holy Mass is not sacrificed. On that day, the history of Christ's suffering is read, it recollects what he has done, assumed, suffered for us. Since that day when the Christ died on the cross, this symbol of Christianity has been given a special significance. In the evening, there is a special prayer to the cross in the church.
The Good Friday is an occasion to reflect on our presence, our own fault, our decisions, our relationship with Christianity. It is a day of silence, tranquility, concentration, and a great, severe fasting, when people stay away from all the fun, but they also should not overdo working. It is necessary to give up on meat and dairy meals, the more rigorous Christians do not eat at all.
The Good Friday - Photo credit: http://mmarijosparapija.lt
The Holy Saturday
This is a kind of waiting day - Christ is already taken away from the cross, buried, but not yet raised up. His disciples run away, hide. Many who believed in him remained somewhat frustrated because they realized that the Christ was just a human being. The only one who keeps the faith is his mother Mary. Not for nothing, the Holy Saturday in Lithuania is also called Mary's Saturday. The big place on Holy Saturday takes the fire and water. From this point of view, Easter is close to many Pagan holidays. Every family in the afternoon (now it's going to happen in the evenings) rushed to the church to get these two things. In the past, it was the work of the children and adolescents to bring fire and water to the house.
It is easier to bring holy water nowadays. House, yard, Easter table is sprinkled with holy water. The Easter Eggs are painted in the Holy Saturday - the most important Easter attribute. Although not all people follow this tradition - they like to paint eggs in advance.
Holy Saturday - Photo credit: zmones.lt
The Easter night
The great night from Saturday to Sunday when you are waiting for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important thing. The workshop begins with the spectacular sea of candles - the great Easter candle is lit by the holy fire. All the believers stall with the burning candles. Water is sanctified. This is the most suitable night for baptism - some baptize newly, others renew their vows.
There are many readings of the Old Testament, and the song "Alleluia" is bursting with the message of the New Testament about the resurrection. This is the most joyous moment of the Easter. The organs get sounding and bells ring. Everyone is happy, greeting each other. True, not all believers spend the Easter night at the church. Some of them go there immediately after a light breakfast; some do not go at all.
Easter night - Photo credit: paneveziokatedra.lt
Most people are happy with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ already after waking up on Sunday. Even those who are not very zealous believers, endeavor to take part in the Resurrection worship on Easter Sunday morning. Traditionally, people are walking around the church. as a procession. It can be said that through Easter night, experienced the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, people bring this message to life, to the public.
This is a special day, a day full of hope and joy because the whole Christianity is based on the hope and miracle of the Jesus Christ Resurrection.
The Easter breakfast starts from the eating painted eggs. The first egg is not broken, it is carefully cut and shared with all at the table.
Easter celebration - Photo credit: gaspadine.lt
Other Easter customs
The houses usually are decorated with trees, shrub branches, and the first spring flowers. The table and meal are decorated with the flowers also, the table is plentifully covered with the grass. It means awakening, a resurrection - not only of the Christ but also the awakening beautifully coincide with nature.
On the second Easter day, the children go to ask for eggs to other people' homes. In the past, it was given just eggs, now many people add bigger gifts to the Easter eggs, such as confectionery, toys or money. First of all, kids visit the godparents, then go to relatives, neighbors. Now, many people replace real eggs with chocolate ones. People also play games with painted Easter eggs. There is made a tray, and people ran the eggs. The one whose egg touched the other's wins the game.
Also, may communities decorate Easter tree with colorful painted Easter eggs.
Easter Customs and Traditions in Lithuania - Photo credit: 15min.lt
Many people celebrate Christian holidays - Easter as if trying to ignore their true essence. Probably, people brought this strange approach from the Soviet times, when preserving certain attributes of these holidays (painted eggs) at the same time, we tried to attribute them only to Pagan traditions - the return of the sun, the rebirth of nature, etc. Indeed, the many details of the Christian holidays have come and coincided with the old ethnographic traditions.
Egg in pagan religion symbolized cosmos (oval form), the emergence of life, and fertility (due to the fact that it is a germ). It was believed that after you break the egg, the snake is coming out of the egg in a shape of the germ. Therefore, during Easter, there was a game - one keeps the egg, and the other is beating it with another egg. It was believed that the snakes were the inhabitants of the underground, who guarded the harvest. In spring, snakes had to wake up vegetation, flowering, and fertility.
Egg painting had a magical meaning. On the eggs, people rubbed out the sun shines (that the vegetation does not lack the sun), stars (that there will be no shortage of light at the night in the fields), grass- snakes (to wake up life), varied vegetation, and combinations of patterns.
Painted Easter Eggs - Photo credit: pureandlinen.wordpress.com
The egg color has a special meaning also. Red color symbolized life, black - earth, blue - sky, green - flowering vegetation, yellow - matured cereals. There was found some old ornate eggs in the graves: ostrich, stone eggs, wooden. These places were the temple of pagan gods, so the Easter eggs were sacrificed to them.
It was believed that the eggs had extraordinary powers - the sick people ate them, also the wounds were treated with eggs. Infertile women were treated with raw eggs. It was believed that Easter eggs had the highest power. The men buried eggs in the fields so that the fields give the better harvest, women used to leave a few painted eggs after Easter, hoping they would protect from our pagan God Perkunas (Thunder).
The main attribute of Easter - painted eggs
I think, nobody will argue that Easter is one of the most colorful holidays with its most important accent- painted eggs, which bring a great joy to both small and adult ones. I believe that in almost all homes in my country, the eggs will be soaked in the natural or artificial dyes, and the homes will smell of beeswax. And although we still have enough cold weather outside, from such thoughts about the Easter preparation, spring comes to my heart.
The attribute of the Easter table's integral part - the painted eggs represent a rebirth. Earlier the eggs were painted in one color - red. Today, we try to paint them as diverse as possible. Unfortunately, as the technology progresses rapidly, the need to produce the dye at home disappeared. Now, there is a lot of artificial dyes in any shop. And we have many ways how to ornate, to paint our Easter eggs using all kinds of spring flowers, grass, onions shells, beeswax, and other tools.
What Easter means to me
The Easter is the very beginning of the spring and a new cycle. Although snow and frost are still visiting us, the snowdrops are already blooming, and buds are spreading, and the earth smells of spring, and so it is getting warmer and milder days. Maybe it sounds a bit strange but Easter for me is, first of all, the feast of the light. The light of the home. The light of the people. The light of nature. The light that tears down disappointments, sadness, fears, and the sleet with other unpleasant precipitations. I believe that this light inspires to sing the birds in the trees which now are spreading buds, inspires to give spring flowers bonded with colored ribbons, and share recipes of Easter cakes, and inspires to love.
I always have a desire to clean the house at the very end of the Lent - about a week before Easter. It's possible that in the core of the heart, from the time of childhood, there is a ritual of home cleaning when we cleaned all the house with my mother so that the relatives who come on Easter morning would find a light and comfort. Dust cleaning, windows cleaning became a kind of the start of the celebration.
The Easter - Photo credit: dziennikelblaski.pl
The spring is doing its own, and I caught myself in dreaming of a sun-warmed face, windows open at night, and a light raincoat. I am dreaming about how the earth starts to smile with flowers and the greenery escaped to the freedom, how it fights, foams, and eventually floods the whole city. Some very new inspirations are flying at the head when the spring comes.
Then I get more and more firmly in doing new things, more boldly looking at the world, becoming more and more confident in myself. I hear my voice, and my days are becoming more and more different to one another. They differ in small adventures and small achievements. I like that spring brings new things: short and long walks on the grass and sand, petal rain that beats out of balance, floral dresses, and unheard new music. The world looks brighter and fairer when you go to sleep and wake up with the open windows. It's just in the spring I go so crazy, I want to dance, and want to get somewhere where I was not yet. And it can understand only people who live in similar climate zone as we live in.
So, the Easter is not only a religious holiday to me. It is a beginning, a new start. It is the rebirth of my soul.
On the Final Note
Let your Easter be full of love. And if something does not go well, I have noticed that the tears of big love beat out the severity of the chest. Do not be afraid to feel. And again, let your Easter be full of sincere concern for others because it heals no less than the medication. A warm word and touch are often more important than a precious gift.
Also, do not complain if you have not carefully done "homework" and the house does not perfectly clean or you did not bake all the dishes you dreamed about. Experience the more possible pleasures and delightful moments being with those who are important to you, and who care about you, and love you as you are.
Let's not forget to share the goodness, smiles, and love with others. Let our hearts will be filled with the fresh spring joy and inner harmony, and the home will be surrounded by peace and hope. I wish you happy and peaceful Easter, or simply the spring.
Happy Easter - Photo credit: moteris.lt
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