Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!
A Lithuanian Christmas Eve is something special. It’s called Kūčios. It’s my favorite day of the year.
Traditionally, fasting occurs all day on Christmas Eve until dinner is served. It’s not observed much anymore but I (usually unintentionally) keep to tradition. Christmas Eve is usually crazy busy preparing for the evening so it’s easy to simply not remember to eat. This morning was a little harder for me to adhere to fasting because I had to get up early for work. I may have eaten some cookies during the day but I was assured by my co-workers that not only do Christmas cookies not count as food when you eat them in small bites so they’re like crumbs, but also, there’s no calories. Win-win for me!
Before the tablecloth is put on the table, hay is laid down. After the meal, everyone pulls out a piece of hay and various predictions can be made. However, we haven’t done that in years since it’s very messy.
An empty place is set for those that we have lost this year and doubles as a place to welcome weary travelers. Because who knows, someone unexpected may show up the door looking for a warm place to stay and something to eat.
The 12 dishes of Kūčios contain no meat (and typically no dairy but I broke that rule ages and ages ago). Everyone should eat at least a bit of every dish or else bad luck will arrive in the new year (or, I read somewhere that you’ll die if you don’t try a bite of every dish).
I also read that if you’re the first to leave from the table while everyone else is eating, you’ll die. I didn’t realize how morbid some of the fortune telling superstitions were.
My favorite two dishes are the red fish (haddock in a tomato/red sauce, served cold because all the dishes besides one are for some reason) and the potato pancakes. This year, we made real bulvinai blynai instead of the other kind we usually have. It didn’t turn out well because they sat for 20 minutes before we ate them so they got kind of rubbery. Fresh pancakes are the best way to do it but that’s hard to do when it’s the last dish served for dinner.
It’s typically a solemn night leading up to dinner. Then once dinner is over, it’s time to celebrate.
This year, my family decided to do a Secret Santa for the first time. It worked out really well since we all ended up with things we wanted instead of weird uninspired gifts during a Yankee Swap (White Elephant). I got As You Wish by Cary Elwes and The Princess Bride (though, I’m going to see if I can exchange it for the illustrated edition, shhhh).
While the evening was sad, it wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. I only cried a few times so that went well. My mom made my cousin and I cry when she was saying the blessing before we ate. It’s hard to have Kucios when the person who taught you all the traditions for the evening is gone.
I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!!