LITHUANIAN CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS
 
 
The LORDíS REVELATION TO VIRGIN MARY (III, 25)
( a.k.a. Vieðpaties Apreiðkimas Ðv. Mergelei Marijai )


This feast day is dedicated to remembrance of Angel Gabrielís announcement that heaven chose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus. In ancient writings and folk language, this holiday was called "Blovieðèiai", Stork Day. M.Maþvydas, in his 16th century writings, refers to continuing pagan traditions of Lithuanian holidays as impudent behavior during Christmas, New Year, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost and others. Now the Lordís Revelation to Virgin Mary is among important annual calendar feast days, people believe seriously that due to this special feast day even birds do not build nests on this day. In the last century, Samogitians prepared special foods for this feast day, pastries made of hemp and Krupninkas, sweet vodka with herbal seasonings. This regaling ritual was connected with 
expectations of good crop harvests throughout Lithuania. Special bread buns were baked from a mixture of many grains, to assure an abundant grain harvest. Some time ago, on this day, young people ignoring the fact that this feast day is during Lent, visited each other, lifting legs high, imitating storks. In the evening they set fires of burning straw and booked small bread rolls on that fire. On this day, much attention was paid to various seeds, grain and vegetable. Seeds were sifted, moved about by hands, their differences were discussed with neighbors. That dayís weather determined the harvest; sunny and clear day meant poor quality grain. Wind from the north heralded good crops.
This day is special because Lithuanian farmersí most favorite bird and personal success predeterminer, the stork, returns on this day. It was said, that if one saw a stork flying towards you, await a good year. The stork was regarded as a holy bird and it was believed that the stork can remove human illness to impassable swamps. Upon seeing a stork, a sick person spoke to him, saying, "take my illness, carry it away to bogs, into deep marshes, place it onto dry trees in places where neither people nor animals go to". People thought if a stork built a nest on a harrow which they placed on the barn roof, there will be a good harvest. To have good trips, an old cart wheel was set on a tree top or on the house roof top. To have success with farm animals, a wheel was set on the barn roof. In some regions, on this day stork pastries, rolls and bread were baked in connection with upcoming harvest. They were baked without childrenís knowledge and were given to them as gifts from arriving storks. Other gifts like fruits, chocolates, pencils and dyed eggs wre attributed to the arriving storks, were hung on tree branches and fences.
 This day is linked with growth of all snakes. In Suvalkija, it was said that snakes roll around a gold wreath on this day. That wreath was supposedly a miraculous crown of the Snake King, affecting humans in the same way as the fern blossom. Whoever finds this crown, becomes all knowing, rich and lucky. The possibility exists of finding this snakeís crown on the night of the feast day of St. John, because then it shines most brightly.
 In Dþûkija until now, it is believed that on this day one should not pick anything in the woods, for in doing so, they will be bringing home a snake.
This day is rich in beliefs and behaviors, which are characteristic of other feast days :
1-  snakes were caught on this day, killed and buried under the doorstep, this was done so that snakes do not bite farm animals.
2-  from March 25th to April 9th, no lending or borrowing takes place.
3-  no sieves were loaned, so that wolves do not kill sheep. If someone requested a sieve, it was taken under lock and key, so as to lock wolvesí jaws.
4-  women tried not to move eggs, so that healthy chicks, goslings and ducklings would hatch. 
5-  eggs were not set for hatching, for the hatchlings would be unhealthy. Those eggs were eaten by the person seeding crops for the first time.
6-  women did not set up their looms for weaving, so that the warp would not become twisted.
7-  houses were not swept, so that chicken would not scratch in the garden.
8-  an old wagon wheel was set on the barn roof to protect chicken from hawks, keep kites from removing grain from grain binsí
9-  women were advised to rise early, so that during harvest they would not injure their waist.
10-  make a nest from straw collected from a neighbor, so that hens from all the neighbors would lay their eggs in this nest.
11-  throw slivers of wood, stones and pieces of rope with the wind. This will prevent the wind from tearing down roofs.
12-  if you want fewer beggars to come that year, do not touch or eat bacon on this day.

This dayís, Blovieðèiai , Stork day,  traditions of ancient times are not connected to the Lordís Revelation to Mary, feast day. Obviously it was a very meaningful day among other spring feast days. 


 

 
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