1st of April: Fools’ day or Liars day in Lithuania
Although it is not an official holiday, we Lithuanians, also celebrate the fools day (we call it all liars day) with naughty jokes and general silliness. Friends, colleagues, family members try to cheat on each other on this special day. It is believed that if you won’t trick anybody on 1st of April, your year will be unsuccessful. It is the only day in the year when lying and playing pranks is tolerated and appreciated. If you get fooled, you don’t have the right to be angry. Cheer up, it’s a fools’ day!
Things to do in the city on 1st of April, 2017
The best way to spend a fools’ day in Vilnius is Uzupis! Uzupis is a bohemian, self-proclaimed republic next to the city center. Despite the fact that this “republic” is not recognized by any other state in the world, it still has its own prime minister, president, parliament, constitution and its celebrations. The “republic” was established by ex-hippie community in 1997 on the 1st of April. The choice of date suggests that the whole thing is not that serious and the key values of the republic are humor and a good mood. Each 1st of April is the day when all of the bridges become custom offices, everyone should pass border control before crossing the state. But don’t worry, it does not take that long! It is the only day in the year when the currency of Uzupis, called Uzis, circulates in local bars, restaurants and cafes. The main streets and art galleries will be full of musicians and happy people celebrating.
Uzupis day program on 1st of April, 2017
From 11:00-to 18:00: borders control. All the guests coming to Uzupis have to have ID cards or passports;
From 16:30-21:000: the concert dedicated to Uzupis independence day with a solemn flag raising ceremony, weighing of the mayor of Vilnius and much more funny attractions;
From 21:00 – to…: Continuation of entertainment in Uzupis Restaurant (next to the river Vilnele) and other bars around.
FIDI (“The dinosaurs have become extinct, but physicists have survived!”)
One more option to have fun on the fools day in Vilnius is to join the students of Vilnius University, physics faculty, organizing their annual festival. FIDI (pronounced “Phee-Dee”) is probably the most famous student celebration held on the first Saturday of April since 1969 or even earlier. The festivity consists of two parts. The first one takes place in Sauletekis – part of Vilnius mainly inhabited by students. The surroundings of the faculty of physics become a self-made amusement park. All of the attractions are created on a budget and by students mainly.
The second part goes into the city streets. According to the legend, a few hundred years ago, a frightening dragon swallowed the girl and now each year the physics go to philologists to redeem one’s fault. That is why, the huge statue of Dinosaur travels a long way through the city (about 8 km) towards the Faculty of Philology in the city center to apologize female philology students.
The culmination and the most relaxing part is the evening concert held in different places in the city each year.
Day of Physicists program on 1st of April, 2017
From 10:00 AM: “Fizland ” (Amusement park) opens on Sauletekis Ave.
Attractions: a sea of foam, wooden horses and much more
From 15:00 till 16:30 parade. Dinas Zauras starts its journey to the VU Phylology Faculty;
15:45 parade through Gediminas avenue;
16:20 plylologists greet physicists at the old campus of Vilnius University;
20:00 Afterparty in an art factory LOFTAS (Svitrigailos st. 29)
More information about the festival here.
9th of April: The Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is celebrated all over the Catholic world and marks the beginning of the Holy week. According to Christian belief, on this day, Jesus, rode on a back of a donkey into Jerusalem, one week before his death and resurrection. The people greeted Jesus with joy, threw palm branches (which is a traditional symbol of peace and victory) at his feet and waved them in the air to honor him. For this reason, the tradition to commemorate this moment is still alive in the Catholic world. Many churches hold special Palm Sunday services that involve distributing palm to the congregation. As in Lithuania there is no palms and the palm trees are not imported, Lithuanians weave branches of indigenous plants and create so called “verbs”- an oblong bouquet of dried flowers and plants. Typical “Verba” consists of sprigs from juniper, mistletoe, berry greens, mosses, colorful flower blossoms. On Palm Sunday these “dried flowers bouquets” are brought to the church to be blessed.
A cheerful tradition of whipping each other with “Verba” is still alive today on a Palm Sunday in Lithuania. There is a believe that if one is hit with “Verba”, he will remain healthy for the next year. When somebody whippes you with it, he usually says “I do not hit you, Verba hits you” (Ne as musu, verba musa).
Things to do in Vilnius from 7th till 9th of April
As Vilnius is preparing for one of the most important Christian celebrations, this weekend in Vilnius will be quite calm, but still few events can be interesting to participate in. You can find more information, about the things to do in Vilnius at this website.
7th of April
21:30 the concert of latin, reggae, rumba rhytms “Tres Triste Tigres”. Price 10 EUR.More information
A cultural club “The hook (Kauno str. 5) will hold a techno party on Friday night. More information here.
8th of April
From 23:00 the bar “Bukowski” (All Saint str. 7) will entertain guests with “Soulful Reggae Sounds”. More information here.
9th of April
On Sunday, you are welcome to join the “Sunday’s Flea Market” organized in a typical soviet residential area of Vilnius, not far from the main market of the city.
Easter traditions in Lithuania
Easter is the biggest spring festival in the Christian world. Even non-Christians countries have different forms of celebrations around Easter time. Jews feast Passover, the festival that remembers that God saved the nation from slavery in Egypt. In ancient times, pagans celebrated nature awakening in spring fertility festivals. For non-religious people it is a nice opportunity for the whole family to gather together.
As the majority of Lithuanians are Catholics, Easter is widely celebrated. The preparation for Easter begins one week before Easter, that is called the Holy week.
13th of April: The Holy Thursday
The Holy Thursday (the day of last Supper and the final day before Jesus was crucified) is usually dedicated to thorough house cleaning. Lithuanians scrub the floor, wash windows, clean all the corners of the house in order to drive away the evil spirits and prepare for forthcoming Easter and the warmth of the spring.
Churches usually hold masses in the morning (Chrism Mass) and one more,- in the evening (Mass of the Lord’s Supper). This is the last masses of the week before Easter Sunday.
As the main Roman Catholic shrine in Lithuania is Vilnius Cathedral, so it can be worth to see masses hold there. On Holy Thursday masses will be held at 10:00 am and 6 pm.
15th of April: The Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday is the last day before Easter and last day of 40 days long fasting of Lent. It commemorates the day when Jesus laid in the tomb after his death. There are no liturgies, but Christians can bring the food baskets to the church to be blessed. All the family members usually stay at home and work hard, prepare filling meals for tomorrow’s celebration such as various kinds of meat, dumplings, salads, eggs and Easter pies.
The main attraction of the day is eggs decorating. The egg has long been seen as a symbol of fertility and life. Lithuanians have deep traditions of eggs decorating. The oldest found artificial colorful egg (called “margutis”) dates back to the XIII century. By the end of XVI century, this tradition splits all over the country. The most complicated and beautiful method of decorating is painting the egg with hot wax. Usually a sharp, thin needle is dipped into hot wax and set on the egg’s surface. Usually Lithuanians painted the symbols of nature: the sun (for forthcoming sunny days), rain drops (for rich harvest), leaves and even the snakes (for the nature awakening). After the painted egg is dipped into colorful dye. Traditionally, natural colors are used taken from onion peels (brown), birch leaves (yellow), violet blossom (blue), etc. The colors also have meanings. Yellow represents the harvest, blue stands for the sky, green symbolizes awakening of nature and red-life.
Lithuanians also carve the dyed eggs. Firstly the egg is colored with natural dyes and then the surface of the shell is scratched by a sharp tool in order to create various patterns. Both methods, painting with hot wax and carving, require artistic talent and patience, so those that are not so thorough, simply attach the leaves, small branches or flower blossoms to the egg during the staining process and still transforms the egg into a magnificent piece of art.
16th of April: Easter
Easter Sunday is one of the most festive days in a Christian world. It commemorates Jesus resurrection from death. It is the day of joy and celebration.
The celebration starts from the morning. The Catholic families go to church services first and just after it, all the family members gather together to eat festive breakfast. The mandatory dish is eggs. Before eating it, everybody plays the cheerful egg tapping game. Each person chooses a hard-boiled egg and taps the tip of their egg over their opponent’s. Unbroken eggs, continue the game, till the last “healthy” egg remains.
One more playful tradition is eggs rolling. Boiled and painted eggs are taken into competition. Eggs roll down the wooden chute in order to hit the opponent’s egg. One the egg is hit, the holder can take the “tapped” egg. The person whose egg hits the most of the other eggs is the winner of the contest.