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Baltic festivals

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The Baltic peoples celebrated many festivals throughout the year, some of which have been influenced by agricultural events and seasonal weather. Some of these festivals have become Christianised, and a few were additions from later history.

Lithuania[edit]

Major festivals, and equinox and solstice observances[edit]

January 25
Pusiaužiemis, a festival that celebrates animals' awakening from hibernation. After Christianisation the Baltic peoples celebrated this day with baptisms.
March 20
Spring equinox (Pavasario lygiadienis). The Balts celebrated this day by washing and swimming in a river that flows from the east, to ensure a pure and healthy year ahead.
April 16
Velykos, a spring festival celebrated with colourful eggs to celebrate spring and fertility. It has became associated with Easter after Christianisation.
June 16
Summer solstice (Vasaros saulėgrįža). The festival of Rasos was observed with sacrifices to the pagan gods, with priestesses (vaidilutės) inciting the sacred fires. They also greeted the midsummer sun, sang and danced until the sun set, jumped over bonfires, searching for a magic fern blossom, and washed their faces with morning dew. Young girls floated flower wreaths on lakes and rivers to celebrate that day. After Christianisation it has become a festival to celebrate John the Baptist.
September 21
Autumnal equinox (Rudens lygiadienis). The harvest festival of Dagotuvės was observed on that day, when potato farming ends. After Christianisation it became the festival of Mykolinėmis, and it functioned as the start of the school year.
December 21
Winter solstice (Žiemos saulėgrįža).
December 24
Kūčios, a festival in which Balts meet their families to eat dinner with them. It became associated with Christmas Eve after Christianisation.
December 25
Kalėdos, a festival dedicated to the powerful deity Praamžius. The ancient Balts celebrated that festival by slaughtering and eating a pig or a boar, to ensure blessings that will make the land more fertile. As they do not work on that day to respect the spirits, they also celebrated with divination, singing about the world tree and the returning sun heralding the coming spring, wearing costumes resembling goats and cattle, and conducting rituals involving sheep and serpents. It became associated with Christmas Day after Christianisation.

Other festivals[edit]

February 2
Day of Perkūnas (Perkūno diena), the god of thunder.
February 3
Day of Flax (Linų diena).
February 5
Holy Day of Gabija (Gabijos šventė), the goddess of hearth fires. It is also the Day of Bread (Duonos diena).
February 28
Gavenia,[1] a festival celebrating the end of winter. The Balts celebrated that festival by burning an effigy of winter (Morė), staging a mock battle between Lašininis ("Porky", representing winter) and Kanapinis ("Hemp Man", representing spring), and wearing masks and costumes. After Christianisation it was renamed as Užgavėnės (Shrovetide), a festival held on the night before Ash Wednesday.
March 4
Day of the Crows (Kovarnių diena).
March 10
Fortieth Birthday of the Birds (40-ies paukščių dienas).
April 23
Jorė (or Ganiklio diena), a festival that honours spring, Perkūnas (with the first thunderstorm signifying rain) and the fertility of the Earth. As it was also a day for livestock, farmers sprinkled holy water with a willow branch along the migration routes of animals. After Christianisation it became associated with Saint George's Day.[2]
April 25
Day of the Gardens (Daržų denia).
The last night of April
Walpurgis Night (Valpurgijos diena).
May 13
Holy Day of Milda (Mildos šventė, Meliės diena), the goddess of love. In the Gediminas sceptre, the Lithuanian calendar began on April, which was dedicated to her.
May 15
End of Sowing (Sėjos pabaiga), when sowing work on the fields have ended.
May 23
Holy Day of Worshipping Birch Trees (Beržų garbinimio šventė).
June 29
Day of Perkūnas (Perkūno diena).
July 15
Day of the Battle of Grunwald (Žalgirio mūšio diena), which commemorates the victory of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania over the Teutonic Order, leading to the rise of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to become a powerful empire in Eastern Europe.
August 15
Žolinės, a festival dedicated to the goddess Lada. The ancient Balts celebrated that festival by harvesting and offering ripened fruit to her, and by not eating any recently picked fruit crops. After Christianisation it became associated with the Assumption of Mary.
September 21
Day of Perkūnas (Perkūnas diena).
September 22
Baltic Unity Day (Baltų vienybės diena)
November 1
Ilgės, a festival to honour Perkūnas and the spirits of the departed with sacrifices and offerings of bread, meat, beverages, treats, and music. After Christianisation it became associated with All Saints' Day.
November 2
Vėlinės, a festival to honour the departed. The ancient Balts went to the graves of the departed, and left offerings of eggs coloured in black and red, for their blessings and a good harvest in the next year. After Christianisation it became associated with All Souls' Day.

Latvia[edit]

February or early March
Meteņi (or Aizgavēnis, similar to Lithuanian Užgavėnės) — a Spring waiting holiday, saying farewell to winter
March or April
Lieldienas
April 23
Jurģi
June 23
Līgo
June 24
Jāņi
August 15
Māras
around September 21 to 23
Miķeļi
middle of November
Mārtiņi
December 24 to 26
Ziemassvētki

See also[edit]

  • Lithuanian calendar
  • Slavic Native Faith's calendars and holidays
  • Celtic quarter days
  • Romuva (religion)
  • Dievturi

References[edit]


This article "Baltic festivals" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Baltic festivals. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.