Christmas in Lithuania: New Year’s Eve and Day
Lithuanians nicknamed New Year’s Eve "Little Christmas Eve.” The holidays are celebrated in comparable ways. Lithuanians prepare similar dishes on the two days, although meat dishes are allowed on New Year’s Eve. After eating dinner Lithuanians sit up to welcome the start of the new year. Like Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve furnishes Li-thuanians with an important opportunity for fortune-telling.
Many New Year’s Eve superstitions offered young men and women yet another batch of charms that could reveal something of their future mates. One such method required a girl to write twelve different male names on twelve pieces of paper and put them under her pillow on New Year’s Eve along with a blank slip of paper. When she awoke she reached her hand under the pillow and pulled out the first slip of paper her hand touched. The name she saw there was the name of her future husband. If she received the blank slip it meant that she would not find a boyfriend that year. Boys worked the same fortune-telling trick by sleeping with twelve female names under their pillow. Another fortune-telling charm called for a group of boys and girls to gather in a dark room on New Year’s Eve. They lit a candle with a match, and waited for the match to burn all the way out. Then someone asked aloud, "Who loves me?” and blew out the candle. The direction in which the candle smoke drifted answered the question. If the candle smoke went straight up, then no one present cared for the questioner; if it went straight down, then someone there disliked him or her.
People watched the weather on New Year’s Day carefully, as it was seen to predict the weather for the coming year. Snow on New Year’s Day indicated a year of bad weather. If it snowed in the morning it meant that lots of young people would die in the year to come. Snow in the evening signified that many older people would die. A clear day, on the other hand, signaled a bountiful harvest. Cold weather on New Year’s Day foretold a warm Easter.
Human activities were also viewed as indicators of future events. People tried to smile and be kind to one another, as this meant that they could expect much of the same throughout the year. People hoped to hear good news when they rose on New Year’s Day. The first piece of news they heard, whether good or bad, revealed the kind of news they would receive in the year to come.