This is our second article aiming to inform you about the significant historical events that happened in Vilnius or Lithuania in the 2nd month of the year and the most famous celebrations, commemorations, exhibitions, festivals that will take place in Vilnius this February. There are few things you just can’t miss if you turn up to the capital of Lithuania this month.
First Sunday of February – international “Cepelinas” day
Have you heard about “Cepelinai”- the most famous Lithuanian traditional food? This smashed potato dumpling stuffed with meat and served with bacon and sour cream, even has its own day- that is the first Sunday of February.
The “Cepelinas” day was invented by Lithuanian-American community in 2014 during the Super Bowl championship. American Football finals takes place on each first Sunday of February and are considered to be unofficial national celebration in United States. It attracts millions of fans of all the nationalities and draws people together for large annual viewing parties. Nevertheless that American football is completely unpopular in Lithuania, Lithuanian-American community adapted to local habits and became devoted fans of the game. During the Super Bowl Sunday in 2014, Juozas Vaiciunas, member of the Lithuanian-American community in Detroit, discovered that the ball has surprisingly similar form to „Cepelinas“ – Lithuanian traditional meal. He got an idea to renounce international “Cepelinas“ day on Superbowl finals and encourage people to cook, taste and gather to eat it together. Soon a Facebook page, logo and the special T-shirts dedicated to“Cepelinas day“ were created.
Don’t miss a chance to taste „cepelinai“ in Vilnius on this occasion.
Good places for traditional Lithuanian food:
Snekutis. Not luxurious, not expensive, but creates an atmosphere of the truth Lithuanian village tavern. The owner has three bars in different locations: Polocko str. 7a, St. Nicholas str 15 and St Stepono str. 8.
Senoji trobele. A cozy, more luxurious place for traditional Lithuanian food, just a bit further from the city center.
Forto dvaras. A good variety of traditional dishes and centrally located.
Valentines day in Lithuania
Valentine‘s day is a fairly new concept in Lithuania. It only started to be celebrated after Lithuania regained independence in 1990. That is why part of the older generation is still a bit skeptical about the day of love, emphasizing that it was imported from „The West“ and has no connection to Lithuanian culture. On the other hand, St Valentines traditions were quickly adopted among youth. On this occasion, children, usually spruces their faces with heart-shaped stickers, the couples goes out for romantic date and changes small gifts such as flowers and sweets.
Valentine’s day concert of charismatic Lithuanian opera soloist and and charming rocker Jeronimas Milius together with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra.
Shrovetide (Uzgavenes) on 28th of February
46 days before Easter Lithuanians celebrate Shrovetide (lith. Uzgavenes) the last and the funniest winter celebration. The aim of the fiesta is to get winter away and to welcome the upcoming spring. Shrovetide in Lithuania is not imaginable without masquerades: people dressed as witches, devils, gypsies, beggars, wondering in the cities streets or from house to house asking for sweets or money. As this is the last day before the fasting of Lent, it is essential to fill yourself with hearty food. Obligatorily meal is pancakes, other special food can be doughnuts, fat pork. One of the traditional attractions of the fiesta is the fight between two characters Kanapinis (the Hemp Man symbolizing spring) and Lasininis (the Fatty associated with winter). After the battle, when the thinner wins, the huge witch-like character, symbolizing winter, is burned accompanied by shoutings “Winter winter go away“.
If you want to feel this crazy spirit of the merriest festival in Lithuania, you have to visit Rumsiskes, Lithuanian folk museum, that organizes it for more than 30 years. The newspaper “The Guardian” rated it among “10 of Europe’s best alternative carnivals”.
A huge fiesta with folk music bands from all Lithuania, pancake baking and eating competition, masquerades parade, ride in a horse-drawn sleigh will take place on Saturday, 25th of February. The real celebration is on Tuesday, 28th of February, but as it is a working day, the majority of events will be organised on Saturday before Shrovetide.
In Vilnius Shortvide carnival will take place as well. More information about it here.
HISTORICAL EVENTS IN FEBRUARY
There are few events very important in Lithuanian history that happened in February.
Iceland recognizes Lithuania on 11th of February, 1991
On March 11, 1990 Lithuania re-declared independence and was the first from Soviet Union states to do so. After the declaration act was signed, a long way to international recognition begin. As Soviet Union was still powerful, the other countries were cautious and did not rush to include Lithuania into the world‘s map. Moldova was the first of all the former Soviet Republics to recognize Lithuania’s freedom on 31 May 1990. Nevertheless, Moldova at that time still belonged to SSRS.
Iceland was the first from the countries outside Soviet Union to acknowledge the reborn Lithuanian state in 1991 February 11, immediately after the bloody January in Vilnius. Before making this step, Iceland even ensure another source of oil, in case if Soviet Union embargoed it as a revenge for recognition of Lithuania. “It was an example of courage, respect for freedom and solidarity of a small nation,” as Lithuanian President (Dalia Grybauskaite) said.
To express the nation‘s gratitude, the street in Vilnius old Town has been called ‘Iceland Street’ since 1991.
In 2014, the Constitution of the Republic of Užupis was translated into Icelandic, and arranged at Paupio street next the plates in other foreign languages. Last year the Mayor of Vilnius unveiled a new plaque n Iceland Street 1 on which the name of the street is written in Icelandic.
Thank you Iceland, we remember! Takk, Ísland!
16th of February-Lithuanian Independence Day
Each year, on 16th of February just after the day of love, we, Lithuanians, enjoy the national holidays. On this day, in 1918 as the First World War was coming to an end, the act of the declaration of Lithuanian independence was signed. After more when 100 years being in the grip of Czarist Russia hands, Lithuania appeared on the maps of Europe again.
To mark the 99th anniversary of the Independence of Lithuania plenty parades, public speeches, festivities and other exciting state-supported entertainment will take place in Vilnius. The main solemn show will happen next to the House of Signatories, where the Act was signed. Cathedral square will host a free public concert in the evening.
Last Tips about the Weather
In February, Vilnius still looks like a winter fairy-tale and usually stays all covered with snow. Normally the coldest period passed away, days are slowly getting longer and warmer. Extremely freezing temperatures are less likelihood when in January, but all kind of weather is possible.
You can check the weather forecast here.
If you still need more specific information about the things happening in Vilnius, don’t hesitate to writte us at info(eta)vilniusfreetour.lt