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Shrove Tuesday
Shrove Tuesday
 
In Lithuania Carnival is celebrated every year on March 5 and 6..  This time marks the end of the season of meat eating and becomes a noisy and happy day. It is the end of after Christmas celebrations and the beginning of pre-Easter contemplation – the time called Lent. The customs come from elements of pre-Christian and Christian Baltic culture. Even the earliest Lent meant the beginning of true spring. This is the holiday when winter ends and the spring starts- saying good-bye to winter and waking up spring. 
The most important day of Carnival is Shrove-Tuesday. Then comes Ash Wednesday and the beginning of long, serious time of lent. Nobody is allowed to eat meat or drink much milk. Left overs from the Carnival day were shared with animals and were called “the medicine for  all illnesses”. On Sunday people ate meat three times, on Monday six time and during Carnival 12 times believing that will help them stay full, fat and healthy for the whole year.
Special Carnival dishes in Lithuania regardless of local eating traditions usually were fat pork, stewed sauerkraut, pancakes (biscuits) and doughnuts. After WWII in the Zemaitija region was popular dish called hodge- podge. It was made from grains, peas, flour and bacon with different spicies. Also popular were sausages, kugelis and other fatty dishes.  People drank home made beer, kvass or whisky. Strong whisky was only for men. It was believed that people who drink water during Carnival would stay thirsty all year. Supper on the Shrove Tuesday's eve like on Christmas Eve had rituals and it was common tradition to invite the spirits of one's forefathers. The leftovers from this supper were believed to have magic powers to protect people from evil. 
The meat eating season started on Christmas and ended on Shrove Tuesday. In many countries this holiday is celebrated like carnival. Lithuanians preserved very old rituals and games what helped to meet spirits of dead and godnesses of nature. Everybody likes to eat a lot pancakes, hodge- podge, to soot with fire- brand, with ashes.
In the old tradition Carnival was celebrated for 8 days (starting on Sunday). It ends on the  46th day before Easter. On this day nobody is allowed to work. Modern Carnival rituals are only a small piece of the ancient traditions that were created to ensure a good harvest, and to speed the coming of Spring.
                      The most popular celebration are organized in the open-air museum in Rumšiškės near Kaunas, and the most interesting – in the Samogitia national park in Plateliai village.