At the end of the 19th century -- in the 1st half of the 20th century

Žilvytis Bernardas Šaknys


Jaunimo brandos apeigos Lietuvoje XIX a. pirmojoje puseje - XX a. pirmojoje puseje, Lietuvos etnologija t.1.Vilnius, Pradai,1996,212 p. reziume

The present work deals with the problem of age symbolism. In order to grasp activities of a definite social group, we must define its relations with other communities. The chief goal of our investigation is to give an answer to the following question: how do social communities legitimate the passage from childhood to youth, a domain of an autonomous age group? With that end in view, we have set ourselves the following tasks:
- to reveal the specific characteristics of youth as a definite age grade;
- to display the forms of youth community activities;
- to perform the diachronic analysis involving physical and social puberty rites of youth fixed by the author in the course of field work and mentioned in literature and sources;
- to classify youth initiation rites according to the social function played by the rites and to the mode of their functioning within a community uniting a definite number of members;
- to show the genetic relation among the initiation rites practised in various social communities;
- to determine their territorial distribution;
- to display ethnic, confessional, social and functional characteristics of the distribution according to sex;
- to make structural analysis of ritual process;
- to suggest possible explanations of the functional meanings of symbols of rite elements; and
- to reveal the social dynamics of rites.
In such a way we expect to contribute to the investigation into the rites of human life cycle. The integral method was used to deal with this problem. Rites practised by youth residing in the villages and small towns of Lithuania and the ethnic territories inhabited by Lithuanians in the end of the 19th - first half of the 20th c.c. were investigated.

Though in the interwar period special attention was paid to youth in Lithuania, (i.e. youth organisations were created on a wide scale, publications intended for youth were abundant), rites practised by youth were neglected by investigators until the 80s as being void of "sacral" value.
Though the fieldwork program including queries on youth initiation rites was published as far back as in 1910, a more profound investigation started in more than half a century's time. First attempts at it were made by A.Mažiulis, the pioneer in "youth ethnography". S.Yla (1979) was the first to classify youth initiation rites. S.Daunys (1991) did a major work on PIRTIS (a bathhouse for taking a bath in the Lithuanian manner) rites. Several other authors investigated youth initiation rites from the functional point of view, however no separate studies or articles were published. Information on initiation rites, (other than our field data) are scarce in Lithuania.

The manuscript depository of the Ethnology Department, Institute of Lithuanian History, owns the biggest collection of archives material. Rather a lot of information relating to the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th c.c. was found in the collections of the Lithuanian Science Society and the Lithuanian Folk-lore Archives (currently kept at the Lithuanian folk-lore manuscript depository, Institute of the Lithuanian Literature and Folk-lore, the corresponding card index being in the Ethnology Department, Institute of Lithuanian History). Regretfully, the collected information is fragmentary. We also made use of the information kept at the manuscript department of Vilnius University Library and the National Library of Lithuania and the displays of Šilutė Museum.

For the first time the greatest part of these archives and published sources was put into scientific circulation by us. 79% of 523 information entries and mentions on initiation rites used in this work were recorded as answers to questionnaires composed by us. Our material was obtained in the course of interviewing 681 informants (423 were interviewed by the author personally). The absolute majority of respondents was born in 1905-1920, consequently, the majority of information entries reflects the situation in 1920-1940. Field works were carried out in 1989-1994. The collected material is kept in the manuscript depository of the Ethnology Department of the Institute of Lithuanian History. Comparative analysis was made on the grounds of information and investigations relating to initiation rites practised in other European countries. The classic and the modern theoretical works by European and North American ethnologists and other investigators into the history of culture were also used when analysing the Lithuanian material synchronically and diachronically.

Works on traditional initiation rites in the neighbouring European countries are not numerous, (confirmation rites being the only exception). This complicates the comparative analysis. As Lithuania's economy and culture did not come up with the economy and culture of Western Europe and North America at that time, theoretical investigation results achieved in those countries could be used by us with reservations, which in its turn determined application of our own original investigation methods, enhanced thorough rite analysis and the resulting conclusions.

Leisure time is the most important area of the cultural activities of youth. Leisure is something in between the children's play interwoven with work imitation and the socially responsible adult's recreation intermingled with his/her labour. Communal existence of an adult rested on it. Communication skills acquired in the family were developed in the course of practising the activities common in peers community. Usually, frequent attendance at community gatherings resulted in becoming a youth. In the interwar period girls were admitted to youth community approximately at the age of 16,32, while boys - at the age of 17,94. Both girls and boys had to be able to cope with everyday tasks in the home, on a farm, etc. belonging to the capacity of a MERGA, (i.e. a maid, a completely physically developed unmarried female in the age usual or conventional for marrying possessing all skills peculiar to an adult woman) or a BERNAS, (i.e. a completely physically developed unmarried male !in the age usual or conventional for marrying possessing all skills peculiar to an adult man) or sometimes a PUSMERGĖ (a female youngling who has mastered a majority of skills peculiar to an adult woman) or a PUSBERNIS (a youngster who has mastered a majority of skills peculiar to an adult man) respectively. In the end of the 19th c. the admittance age started later. This is witnessed by the length of herdsmandood period (until 20 years of age and beyond). Sporadically, in the interwar period and, obviously, rather often in the end of the 19th c., marriage of a senior sister, sometimes of a senior brother, marked the beginning of a person's youth.

Youth community used to be left upon the person's getting married. If a family was not created in due time, the approaching of the real end of one's physiological youth was marked by the entrance into the age grade of an old maid (spinster) or an old bachelor.

The role played by village peer community as an institute of socialisation varied in Lithuania. Links among peers were relatively looser in the villages of West Lithuania where agricultural activities were more intense, and the style of living was more secluded. Members of the Surinkimininkai (Pietistic Movement) residing in Klaipėda and the surrounding territory firmly supported a reserved style of living, perceiving their asceticism as a means of expressing their ethnic identity. In West Lithuania, youth gatherings held when the working day was over exclusively on the occasion of some major calendar holiday or family festivity predominated. Adult life values were set as landmarks in an individual's life since his/her early childhood, the boundaries between the children's and the adults' worlds were levelled.

Extensive farming and collective living determined a quite different type of youth in East Lithuania. Intensive youth gatherings free from any relation to labour activities prevailed there. Close social relations flocked youths together making them form integral and culturally autonomous communities with their own control structures and laws, strictly delimiting the world of the child from that of the adult. According to our investigation data, in East Lithuania, youth as a culturally autonomous age grade, has a long history of existence, regardless of the interference of the European technological and cultural innovations. As soon as Lithuania's independence was restored (in 1918), political organisations of the directed their attention to youth as a most susceptible and plastic age group. Youth and adult organisations and youth innovative gatherings, (e.g. a GEGUŽINĖ, i.e. youth festivity in the open held from May till September inclusively, public youth parties) prompted ch!
anges in the territorial identity of village youth, (a resident of Village N ® a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania), widening especially the boundaries of girls' cultural activities. Girls were active participants of the said public organisations breaking thus the stereotypes of female activities that had existed for hundreds of years, (i.e. the area of family reserved for women). Public youth gatherings enabled the girls to participate also in the gatherings held by other villages and small towns. The youth leisure time innovations observed in the first half of the 20th c. made the manifestation of regional youth life peculiarities somewhat less prominent, nevertheless in a great number of places territorial village youth communities retained their autonomy. There was no time left for essential changes to occur. The Soviet occupations (1940 and 1944-1945), the World War II, deportations and collectivisation started.
The following five rite types can be distinguished according to social institutes established for youth initiation purposes:

Type 1 represents rites practised in family (after the first menstruation; after the first bread baking);
Type 2 represents rites practised in the community of neighbours (in PIRTIS, a bathhouse for taking a bath in the Lithuanian manner) or in JAUJA (a barn where flax was broken);
Type 3 represents rites practised during village community festivities (a wedding);
Type 4 represents rites practised in an autonomous territorial village youth community;
Type 5 represents rites practised within a parish (during confirmation).

Until the period under investigation girls' rites of Type 1 and 2 existed. They could be observed in the end of the 19th -- the first half of the 20th c., however both the form and the contents of the rites were reduced.

In a great number of cultures, occurrence of the first menstruation is linked with the beginning of the process of physical and social maturation of a girl. This fact is emphasised by initiation rites in nations differing in the level of their cultural development. In Lithuania, in the end of the 19th -- the beginning of the 20th c.c., the first menstruation was marked within the family. In most cases only mother and daughter participated in the rite. The mother, having learned about her daughter's first menstruation, would slap her on the face. The ritual practice was intended to predestine the girl's physiological development. It was believed that even the manner in which the act of slapping was performed could determine duration of menstruation. In the period under investigation rites of that type were common in East and South Lithuania, their distribution being subject to gradual change.

Rites of Type 2, i.e. the first bread baking, are related to physical and social maturation of an individual. Its oldest description reflected in an information entry fixed by A.Mažiulis witnesses the realia of the second half of the 19th c. stating that in Dusetos girls baked their first bread on Saturday in order to treat women assembled in a PIRTIS (a bathhouse) to it. Bread being baked and a special small loaf of bread being ready, the mother invited all family members and her next-door female neighbour and distribute the bread baked by her daughter among them. The goal of ritual practices that followed was to notify the community about the daughter's readiness to get married, on that occasion the father usually assigned his daughter her share. When female neighbours assembled in the bathhouse tasted the bread baked by the daughter, the mother informed them as to the amount of the assigned share. Somewhat simpler rites were practised in the interwar period. Usually, the first bread baking was celebrated in NE and SE Lithuania. The belief that upon the occurrence of the first menstruation a baker's peel had to be promptly taken out to the entrance-room, and the approximate coincidence of the age at which the first menstruation and the first bread baking took place at that time, compels us to make a supposition that the rites celebrating the physical maturity and the beginning of management activities were once interrelated constituting a uniform initiation rite.

Rites of two types were practised in the community of neighbours. In NE Lithuania girls' maturity was marked during a bath taken in a bathhouse, while in SW Lithuania it was marked in a barn during flax breaking time. As witnessed by the information entry supplied by K.Čerbulėnas reflecting the realia taking place in the end of the 19th c., women and young girls assembled in a bathhouse in autumn to determine who of them were fit for marriage. A.Mažiulis also witnesses "the ritual meal on the occasion of achieving maturity" celebrated at that time. In the course of our field investigation no evidence of the rite was spotted. In the end of the 19th -- the first half of the 20th c., girls taking part in flax breaking for the first time in their lives were admitted to the maiden community by means of covering them with soot (SW Lithuania) or by means of BINKIAVIMAS (two young unmarried men would seize firmly the novice by the shoulders and legs and run her seat against a flax breaker's clamp) (W Lithuania). The real initiation value of the rite was lost by the interwar period.

Taking into account the community of meaning of the words JAUJA (barn) and PIRTIS (bathhouse) (in SW Lithuania and in some places in West Lithuania JAUJA was also called PIRTIS), the out-of-the-way place reserved for both buildings in the general complex of farmstead buildings, the exceptional status of the two buildings, i.e. their mythological danger, the similar rite celebration time (autumn; night or dusk), the achievement of full social maturity celebrated in both buildings, the bifunctional (flax breaking and bath taking) territorial distribution of the buildings constituting a farmstead in Lithuania, the possibility to link the rites with the domestic fire cult or domestic fire in general, we can suggest a hypothesis that the rites must have been genetically related in the past.

Taking into consideration the social initiation institutes of all rites practised in the family and in the community of neighbours (mother -- family -- community of neighbours), it is possible to presume, theoretically, that all above mentioned rites constituted a complex system in the past. Celebration of achievement of the state of physiological, social and sacral maturity by means of introducing ritually the girl to a gradually widening social circle, used to build up most favourable conditions for her to realise her new status psychologically.

However, all those rite procedures could not be started and completed in the course of one day. A period lasting up to one year could separate the rites. On the other hand, the structural and functional analysis of the rites allows us to state that the initiation function could be vested in any of the said rites. The ethnological material possessed by us enables us to link, hypothetically, only the rites celebrated within the family. Even if they constituted a uniform initiation complex, in separate cases a girl could not achieve the status of a daughter in maidenhood because a right to marry belonged to her senior sister. This social status was acquired by the girl publicly before her kin and all villagers during the wedding of her senior sister.
The oldest information entry witnesses the custom of wreathing (coronation, symbolisation of virginity, assignment of rights) of a lass or, less habitually, a lad.

Its existence in the end of the 19th c. is testified by descriptions recorded in Kupiškis region. Before the bride's leaving for her husband's place, the bride's wreath was put on the head of her junior sister. The wreathed lass was seated on a bench and hoisted aloft several times. (Sometimes witnesses to the event held burning splinters or tallow candles in their hands). The lass' mother of father provided refreshments to the hoisters, (sometimes "ransom" was paid on her behalf in the same manner as done on behalf of the bride). This custom spread quickly in the first half of the 20th c. A wreath, a bride's veil or shawl was put not only on the head of the bride's junior sister but also on the head of her maid of honour or even on the heads of all her maids in turn.

With the vanishing of the order of priority in marriage, the rites lost their initiation value little by little, becoming pleasure elements in wedding festivities. In a bit wider area in NE Lithuania the rites symbolising a girl's liberation were practised in the period under investigation. The junior sister (or seldom brother) was dragged from behind the wood block, from under the bench, the throw, the UNDERĖ (basket), the bed, the table or even the tub. The area of the rites of said type includes another group of rites signifying the order of priority in marriage, i.e. ritual taking off of the bride's junior sister from the dowry chest. In Lithuania the following practices emphasising the girl's setting free or liberation were also known: the girl (or sometimes a boy) was symbolically or really pulled from under the basket, the said basket being broken later during a common dance or destroyed in some other way. Sporadically, other rites connected with the primogeniture wer!
e practised.

When dealing with definite forms of initiation rites practised during wedding festivities, the conclusion that these must be the 19th c. innovations thrusts itself upon. Evidently, the overall secularisation of the mode of living practised in the village, the disintegration of the primogeniture which took place in the 19th c. the youth leisure time innovations, the growth of girls' social activities, and the process of the cultural area development in the beginning of the 20th c., advanced girls' initiation rites to a wider level, i.e. the village community level.

During wedding festivities, an individual's relative age, not his/her chronological one, was emphasised, therefore rites of type 1 and 2 could preserve their initiation value to a certain degree. However, we cannot decline a possibility that in former times the passage into the status of the senior unmarried daughter could be celebrated by several or even all village women (if the village was small) in some remote place. Theoretically, it is possible the "mysterious" rites practised in a bathhouse might be just the ones.
The following initiation practices can be observed during wedding festivities: the discharging from the old social structure, the ritual hoisting aloft (the intermediate status), and the legitimisation of the newly-acquired status (ritual drinking to the novice's health, repast) (cf. A. van Gennep. Les Rites de Passage).

Investigation of the structure and the symbolism of the process of rites practised during wedding festivities reveals similar structural elements in other rites de passage (e.g. the end of the harvest time, flax-pulling, merry-making upon completion of construction of a house).

In most such rites the three structural components of the process are present or interpreted in a rather straightforward way: the separation, the transition, and the integration. In the course of rite reduction, rites of the said type, the practices symbolising the separation from the social structure proved to be the most stable.

Boys' rites practised within a youth community were more archaic than the rites designed to emphasise the order of priority in marriage practised during wedding festivities. The social level of the boys' initiation institute was not subject to alterations for a longer period of time. European analogies indicate that the specific regional characteristics of initiation rites were rather prominent at the time under investigation. A youth community as an initiation institute existed in Lithuania as was the case in many other countries of West Europe while in the neighbouring Poland, Russia and partly Byelorussia, work community played the role of an initiation institute.

Initiation rites practised by a youth community can be viewed as the rites of passage into an autonomous youth community. The rites are designed to emphasise not the change in an individual's physical or social status but his/her admittance to a community consisting of members united by common age, territory and interests. Surely, the very admittance was connected with an essential change in the social life of a girl or a boy.

One of the main characteristics signifying the existence of a village youth community was the age qualifications kept up by the community as a requisite for participation in leisure gatherings organised by youth. In the period under investigation it was usually limited by youth in East, South, and rarely, in West Lithuania. The territorial identity of the community is witnessed by fights among village youths residing in different villages. In the interwar period they were most common in Suvalkija, NW Žemaitija and in some places in East Lithuania. In the places where village youth communities had preserved their territorial and age sovereignty, the initiation value of boys' initiation rites was the greatest.

The territorial character of a youth community was determined also by common interests uniting youths of a definite village. Each young individual intended to achieve certain personal aims through a youth community gathering, e.g. to have a good time, to meet his/her friends, or to find his/her mate. Village youth was linked together by the following common goal: the necessity to keep up the high standing of the native village youth. The stability of the control structures of the youth community is the source of its social integration.

As far back as in the interwar period in certain places of East and South Lithuania the institution of a senior BERNAS existed. To the competence of the senior BERNAS, the oldest unmarried man in the village, belonged the organisation of the rite of admittance of younglings to youth community, making novices accept the communication stereotypes existing in the community, controlling activities of the youth community. However in most cases activities of a youth community were co-ordinated by several boys. They also were to secure the positive status of the community.

Initiation rites practised within a youth community were mostly designed to legitimate maturity of boys. Sometimes girls did not even participate in such rites of initiation (usually in Suvalkija). In over than 87% of investigated cases initiation rites were organised jointly for young hirelings and landowners' children. Rites were practised during a youth party or some other youth gathering. Only several cases are known to witness that the rites were practised on a fixed date; in most cases novices were admitted to the community in the course of a certain season, usually in spring or summer. In more than a half of the investigated cases, the rite was celebrated on behalf of one boy. In the period under investigation the rites were practised in all ethnographic regions of Lithuania, except Žemaitija where only several such cases were observed.

In many cultures of the world, boys' initiation rites were related to the tests of the novice's physical maturity, tortures, jeer and other practices of social pressure. Quite a number of information entries witness the presence of social pressure in the boys' initiation rites practised in Lithuania in the period under investigation. However, the diversity of such initiation practices is evident. Only the rite of making a boy jump over a bench with simultaneous hitting him in the back with a belt that existed only in Suvalkija occupied a major area in which it was compactly distributed. In the same manner younglings under the age established by the youth community for acceptance for participation were expelled from the party there. A drink to the health of the novice being drunk, he made his last jump over the bench.

With the reduction of the rites, boys' skill and force tests and other practices relating to social pressure were transformed into penal customs directed towards younglings without required age qualifications, i.e. a certain part of the rite became the realia of the customary law of youth.

Straightforward character of an individual's segregation from his/her old social structure is observed only in NE Lithuania, it is reflected in the fixed custom of cutting off "the fetters put by the father". However, usually boys' initiation rites started with the first public dance followed by a repeated ritual hoisting. In East Lithuania the boy's admittance to a youth community was stressed by the rite of his ceremonial inscription into a symbolic book usually followed by the ritual drinking.

With the reduction of the initiation rites, the drinking became the chief if not the only evidence of the rite. Boys' initiation rites (Type 4) were celebrated in the same sequence as girls' initiation rites ( Type 3), only the structures of ritual practises differed a bit. In boys' rites practices symbolising social solidarity and introduction into a new social structure were more stable, while in girls' rites practices symbolising segregation from the old social structure and social compulsion were more prominent.

Girls were seldom "inscribed" as members of a youth community during a youth party. The rites differed significantly, they did not occupy major distribution areas. Probably, such realia were a relatively recent cultural phenomena of the end of the 19th -- the beginning of the 20th c.c. In the period under investigation the cultural differentiation of sexes became less evident. Sometimes in girls' (Type 3) and boys' (Type 4) rites that dominated in the greater territory of Lithuania maturity of individuals of the opposite sex was legitimated in an identical way. Sometimes youths stressed girls' physical maturity (full development of breasts) too, however this practice could exist both as a rite and a private life event (as an obscene joke or customary law realia).

The process of vanishing of differentiation between separate initiation institutes founded on sexual basis resulted in confirmation (Type 5). Girls' andy boys' maturity was emphasised identically and simultaneously. In a parish community, the end of childhood and the beginning of youth was stressed in a most vivid manner by confirmation procedures of the Lutheran Church.

Because of historical circumstances, confirmation in the Lutheran Lithuania Minor since the beginning of the 18th c. coincided with the completion of obligatory education period. This urged the appearance of the confirmation as a stereotype of ecclesiastic and secular initiation rite. Confirmation was a special event in the life of the people who inhabited that region. Candidates' preparation for the special day (candidates' classes, special costumes), solemn atmosphere in the church, public examination in religion, special vows, a party to be held at home, presents given by guests, acquisition of rights enjoyed by adults (admittance to Holy Communion, a right to accumulate a dowry, to get employed, act as a godmother/godfather, or a bridesmaid/groomsman, etc.) gave a meaning to the confirmation as an initiation rite. The age qualifications required for confirmation resulted in the fact that an individual achieved his/her social maturity being still immature physiologically.

The initiation value (in its secular sense) of confirmation practised by the Evangelic Lutheran and the Evangelic Reformation Church of Lithuania Major was not equally significant. This was caused by the absence of major compact confessional community and by the lack of relation between the obligatory education qualification and the confirmation. The confirmation sacrament practised by members of the Roman Catholic Church was seldom regarded by them as a youth initiation rite. In South Lithuania sometimes an individual was admitted to full membership of village youth community after a mass had been said to definite village's order. The village organised youth festivities on that occasion.

As is witnessed by the analysis of rite distribution according to sex, more narrow communities (Type 1 and 2) legitimised only girls' maturity, in wider communities legitimisation of girls' or boys' physical or social maturity prevailed (Type 3 and 4), while in the widest communities (Type 5) maturation of both young males and females was emphasised in an identical way. Besides, sometimes, in communities of various size, boys' and girls' maturity was legitimised at the beginning of a certain working season: sowing, manuring, mowing, threshing, weaving and spinning.
The functional and structural analysis of rites indicates that rites of separate types were formed in different epochs.

Social dimensions of initiation rites of girls and boys witness the existence of social processes within a society, the changing cultural area of a community, the need experienced by every social community of that time to control activities of representatives of a corresponding age group.

Investigation into youth initiation rites of the time from the point of view of sex, reveals not only the conservatively of male rites but also their specific relation with the magic and the sacral world. Boys' rites are rather rational, their chief purpose being to enforce the newly-acquired status. The majority of girls' rites are connected with the practises emphasising the prospect of their future lives. Such practices are designed to predetermine the forthcoming physiological and social maturity.
It would seem that the compulsory character of the practices had to dramatise maturation of a male youth. However girls also experienced social pressure and were subject to such humiliating practises. Deep psychological impact is provoked by means of emphasising one or other intimate stage of physiological maturation.

As for boys' initiation rites, the most archaic ones were preserved in SE Lithuania and in certain places of SW Lithuania. Initiation rites are extremely rare in West Lithuania. This phenomenon can be explained by a relatively early disintegration of farmers into separate farmsteads, a relatively larger size of individual farms and a higher cultural standard of the region.

In the first half of the 20th c., especially in 1920-1940, initiation rites of Type 1, 2 and 4 were practised sporadically. The rites practised during wedding festivities were compactly distributed in several areas, each area amounting to 2000-3000 Irregularity of distribution of rites of the said types was caused by the economic and cultural development of village districts, especially the specific character of information communication and information acceptance. Rites of Type 1,2 and 4 were transmited vertically (from generation to generation). Rites of Type 3 could be transmited both vertically and horizontally (territorially), the communication involving a relatively great number of wedding participants and, consequently, a wider area inhabited by them. The "modern" rites of Type 5 were transmitted trajectorily through the church.

The ethnic character of inhabitants influenced the form and the contents of rites to a certain degree. Realia that existed in the narrowest communities were the most universal and least susceptible to changes: Lithuanian, Latvian, Russian, etc. mothers slapped their daughters on the face regardless of their confession.

In many countries similarities in the contents and form of initiation rites practised by wider communities and in the rite alteration character can be observed. Rites being deprived of their sacral character, only the universal and the archetypal ritual practises (hoisting aloft, jumping, ritual drinking, etc.) were preserved in narrow village communities.

The archetypal practices were contaminated by elements of other rites and symbols of physiological or social maturity recognised by the village community as a result of changes in its world outlook and world cognition.
The trajectoric transmission of cultural information secured the institutional control of the form and contents of initiation rites. However, the initiation value of the said rites was regulated by the interaction of several social institutes.
Maturity of a novice being recognised within a certain social community, this fact was directly recognised also by more narrow social communities, the culturally autonomous youth community being the only exception. It would not always recognise the fact of primogeniture already recognised before the village community and young kin. In such cases a boy, and often a girl, was not admitted to youth community, sometimes an individual was denied admittance even after his/her confirmation. On the other hand, in rare cases rites practised by a youth community were directly recognised by adult village community members who witnessed them.

The initiation value of rites differs. The term of youth initiation rites was applied by us when we discussed practises relating to first menstruation, first bread making and other practises taking place in a bathhouse or a barn. As has been mentioned, the rites were created in different epochs. Though void of their primary initiation value, the rites dramatised physical and social maturation of youths, fixing their new position in his/her ontogeny. Analysis of initiation rites practised by Lithuanian youth refuted the opinion that initiation rites lay buried in the bottom of history being of no consequence in pre-industrial and modern society.

Initiation rites practised by Lithuanian village youth are original initiation practises modified by a civilised European nation. Deep spiritual shock is experienced during the rite. After the rite new rights and obligations are acquired by an individual in his/her family and in other social communities, youths obtain the right to look for a mate or even to marry.

Receiving an initiation rite was a significant event in an individual's life and in the life of a youth community, however it did not produce sufficient grounds for him/her to become a full member of a village community. In this respect the rites corresponded to various acts, very significant personally though void of legal power beyond the boundaries of his/her community. Gaining of such rites by a youth did not necessarily result in his/her becoming an independent member of a village community; on the other hand, (in extended families), individuals did not start independent farming even after marriage, youths below 21, even married, were denied absolute civil capacity.
Despite all this, youth initiation rites, alongside with birth giving and related ceremonies, christening, betrothal, wedding and burial constitute a full and equal component of the ethnic heritage of Lithuania and Lithuanians. They are worth investigation, preservation and handing over to the coming generations.