Day of science and knowledge | True Lithuania
True Lithuania

Holidays for Various Groups of People

Certain holidays in Lithuania are dedicated to specific groups of people. Mother's day on the first Sunday of May typically includes children giving presents to their mothers. Fathers are similarly honored in the Father's day one month later (first Sunday of June), but the traditions for celebrating this holiday are not as strong.

Day of science and knowledge (September 1st) is the universal start of schoolyear in Lithuania, also followed by most universities. Kids bring flowers to their teachers and there are no lessons but a short introduction. Alcohol sales are banned all over Lithuania that day to discourage teenagers from getting drunk in post-holiday meetings with classmates.

Students in formal attire going to school on the Day of Science and Knowledge. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Labour day (May 1st) used to be a major affair marked by massive state-organized parades during the Soviet occupation, participation in which had been mandatory for many people. After independence, it was briefly not a public holiday at all. Reinstated as such by the Socialdemocrats it failed to generate public attention and you will not see labor rallies of the southern European scale in Lithuania. Many people regard the Labour day to be primarily a Soviet holiday.

Women day (March 8th) celebration traditions also date to the Soviet Union, but this holiday is more popular than the Labour day. During it, males typically congratulate their female co-workers and bring them flowers.

A temporary stall selling flowers on March 8th with a slogan 'We know what women want'. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Soviet Victory day (May 9th) is still regarded as their own "national day" by many local Russians who celebrate it at Soviet soldier memorials. It is undoubtedly the most controversial one among the once-mandatory Soviet holidays. To Lithuanians, the Soviet victory (and Western non-intervention) was a tragedy as it meant 45 additional years of occupation as well as the Genocide and guerilla war.

People celebrating Soviet victory day at Antakalnis cemetery in Vilnius, the city's largest burial place for Soviet soldiers. They lay red flowers at the graves, carry images of soldier relatives and the controversial St. George strip symbol

Mostly ethnic Russian people celebrating the Soviet victory day at Antakalnis cemetery in Vilnius, the city's largest burial place for Soviet soldiers. They lay red flowers at the graves, carry images of soldier relatives and Russian symbols. The ceremonies are conducted almost entirely in the Russian language. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

In the 1990s, the Saint Valentine day (February 14th), a holiday for lovers, gained a popularity that sometimes exceeded that of the independence day two days later (February 16th). Not native to Lithuania, the Valentine day celebrations were completely imported from the West. They include spending a romantic evening and mutual gift-giving for couples and lots of heart symbols; however, only a part of couples follow it.

After independence, as a nod to the historically-important Jewish community, the major Lithuanian municipalities and institutions often have some official celebrations of Hanookah (8 days in December or late November), held locally to be the most important festival for Jews. However, as at the mass migration to Israel has recently reduced the Jewish community to its lowest in hundreds of years, there is a little actual celebration of the event beyond the official speeches of the local politicians and Jewish leaders.

A Hanukiah, 9-pointed candle, on a Jewish community building in Vilnius. Every day of Hanookah, one more candle is lit. Such Hanukiahs are often constructed in the city centers by the municipalities during the Hanookah. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Other "national days" of countries that have minorities or expatriates in Lithuania or are friendly towards Lithuania or may also be celebrated, albeit such celebrations are often limited to some single location where whoever is interested comes (e.g. a yard next to the embassy). This includes the independence days of Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, the USA.

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