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Easter in Lithuania
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 solemn festival in Lithuania. On this holiday the Christian elements (the Resurrection of Christ) merges with pagan Lithuanian traditions, the rebirth of nature or its awakening from winter's sleep.
The Holly Week begins on Palm Sunday when the all the Christian world celebrates Jesus' noble entry into Jerusalem on the last Sunday before Easter.
A lot of people go to church that day where they bring “verba”, special Palm Sunday bouquets made of dry flowers. They serve the same symbolic function as palm branches do in Southern countries.
The early Eastern morning, just before dawn, abounds with magical power. Much of this magic is concentrated in flowing water. Bathing in such water before sunrise prevents all boils, sores, rashes and other skin ailments.
Many believers go to church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The Easter morning procession is the most solemn and is quite often conducted around the church. 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.
When everyone is back from church, Easter breakfast takes place. The meal begins when the oldest member of the family peels a blest Easteregg, cuts it and gives a piece to every member of the family. The egg being the symbol of life and rebirth of nature is given special meaning in Easter traditions. In all of Lithuania, the act of hitting Easter eggs is known and practiced. The egg is placed in the palm of the hand with thumb and forefinger holding the pointed end of the egg, which is the hitting area. The cracked egg is taken by the person whose egg did not crack in the process of hitting. Who has the strongest egg is said to have the longest and healthiest life.
Egg rolling is also popular throughout Lithuania. A thick tree bark with a smooth inside is placed at an angle and eggs are rolled down through it. When the egg hits another egg, which had rolled down earlier, the egg's owner takes possession of both eggs.