As we recently launched our site in Lithuanian, we wanted to introduce you to the country of Lithuania as part of our country series. I visited Lithuania's capital Vilnius recently so I wanted to share with you some traditions I found out about there.
Lithuania is the most southern of the three Baltic states (the other two being Estonia and Latvia) and the largest and most populous of them. 84% of the population are ethnic Lithuanians with the two largest minorities being Poles and Russians. The Lithuanian language is part of the Baltic languages, which in turn are part of the Indo-European languages, a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most of the major languages of Europe.
In 2009, Lithuania will celebrate its millennium. The name Lithuania was mentioned for the first time in 1009 in the Annales Quedlinburgenses, a book dedicated to the history of the Holy Roman Empire.
So how does one go about being a Lithuanian? Here are a few of my tips. Of course there is much more to this beautiful country, but this is a start:
Lithuanian cuisine is famous for its cold beet soup, Lithuanian sausage and potato meals. Potatoes are eaten alone or as an accompaniment to a main course. The most popular potato dishes are potato sausages, potato casserole and pancakes and 'cepelina', potato dumplings stuffed with meat, curd cheese or mushrooms. Lithuanians believe that "he who eats well, works well".
In Lithuania today, major breweries produce about 50 different brands of beer, both light-coloured and dark beers. There are also about 300 regional breweries which produce dark 'village beer'.
Today, Lithuanians are one of the biggest beer producers and consumers in Europe. Beer has become a truly national drink - according to the statistics, an average Lithuanian drinks 50 litres of beer per year.
The most popular sports in Lithuania, believe it or not, is basketball. This is probably because of Lithuania's national basketball teams, which do consistently well in the world basketball rankings. Currently Lithuania is 5th in the FIBA men's world ranking.
Enjoy a day off on mother's day
Lithuanians honour their mothers through a national holiday on the first Sunday of May. It is a day on which they buy gifts for and celebrate their mother with the family. Father's day is celebrated but not with a public holiday.
Traditionally, the highest praise you could give someone in Lithuanian society was that "he or she is a serious person". But the word for serious in Lithuanian means a whole lot of things, it suggests a number of positive attributes in the person it describes: reliability, discretion, a sense of responsibility, sobriety and steadfastness. In fact, the phrase is believed to refer to a person of balanced character, who knows when to laugh, but also when to be serious!