Christmas in Lithuania: Christmas Eve Foods
In past times many families thought it unlucky if an odd number of people sat down to dinner on Christmas Eve. If faced with an odd number of family members the head of the house invited a solitary neighbor or even a beggar to join the family’s Christmas Eve supper. Today many people still observe a folk custom that requires everyone at the table to eat at least a little bit of every dish. An old folk belief claimed that those who neglected to do so would die before the next Christmas Eve. Custom dictates that the family serve twelve dishes said to represent either Jesus’ twelve disciples or the twelve months of the coming year. Traditional Christmas Eve dishes omit meat, eggs, and dairy products. Many Lithuanian families still observe these customary restrictions. Foods often found on the Christmas Eve table today include herring and other kinds of fish, kisielius (a kind of cranberry pudding), fruit soup or compote, slizikai or kuciukai (a kind of biscuit), poppy seed milk, oat pudding, beet soup, mush-rooms, salad or dried vegetables, sauerkraut, potatoes, and bread.