Easter is finally here! For Lithuanians it is the time of awakening nature, arrival of spring and of course festivities, symbolizing the resurrection of Christ. In this post we will discus what you should know about Easter in Vilnius and what activities you can join in.
Check out traditional Easter Crafts
First thing you will notice all around the town are spectacularly hand-painted Easter Eggs. The Lithuanian name for dyed Easter eggs is margučiai – derived from the adjective meaning ‘colorful’. The traditional technique uses wax and produces some very impressive patterns. The eggs are first covered in hot wax using a needle or a thin strip of metal. The more intricate the pattern, the better. Later, the eggs are dyed and the wax is removed, uncovering the pattern it left behind. Actually the traditional patterns are way older than Christianity in this country. Symbols used on the eggs date back to Pagan times and were meant to celebrate the earth’s rebirth or ensure fertility and growth.
You can find Easter egg souvenirs ( colored eggs shells, or wooden eggs) in many traditional crafts shops or street stands this time of the year.
However if buying souvenirs is not your thing, look for biggest Margutis in town ( Pylimo str. 43, Vilnius)! It is an iconic must–see sculpture of Vilnius, especially while celebrating Easter. It weights only 300 kg and signifies the restoration and revival of this part of the Old Town.
Another beautiful thing you might see in the streets – Verba. It’s a willow branch decorated with colorful dried flowers and Juniper branches. It is part of Palm Sunday tradition. The Gospel calls it Palm Sunday, because the faithful carried palms, laying them at the foot of Jesus entering Jerusalem. Except that we do not have palms here in Lithuania, so instead locals make Verba. If this colorful branch is consecrated in a church, it’s considered to be a protector of a household from fires, diseases or general bad fortune.
Lithuanians are not the most active Christians, but we try to participate in a holly mass at least once a year. And Easter is usually the time, when you will see us in a church. Why? Well, probably because the Easter Mass is one of the most beautiful ceremonies of the year with impressive processions and a friendly atmosphere. Crowds of people gather (even outside the churches) and bring baskets of dyed eggs, bread or a juniper twig for blessing. If you decide to join in, know that the largest Easter Mass takes place at the Vilnius Cathedral, but for the most beautiful views visit the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. Or receive Mary’s blessing at the Chapel of the Gates of Dawn, but make sure to come early so you can find a free seat.
Source: Go Vilnius, www.vilnius-tourism.lt
Main churches for Easter Mass:
Vilnius Cathedral – mass in Lithuanian, but the celebration is too impressive to miss
Bernardine Church – mass available in English
The Church of St. Theresa next to the Chapel of the Gates of Dawn – mass available in Polish
Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy – mass available in Polish
Church of St. Peter and St. Paul – mass available in Polish
Church of St. Casimir – mass available in Russian
When can we start eating?
On the first day of Easter local families get together for a real feast. Of course, eggs will be the first thing everyone will have to taste. We recommend to try it with freshly grated horse-radish, which you will be able to find in any shop this time of the year. Meat is a must on the menu too. And there are delicious sausages and smoked meats that you can get in Hales Market – just like the locals do. Another staple we love – Velykų Boba – an Easter cake made from yeast dough.
On the second day of Easter join the White Tablecloth celebration at the Republic of Užupis. It’s a traditional community dinner in which everyone can participate: just bring your own food, drinks, friends/family and enjoy the Lithuanian sun around tables white tablecloths. More over everyone will be invited to participate in games and activities like: The Egg Roll for kids, the most beautiful Easter Egg contest, 100 chocolate Eggs Hunt in the yard of Užupis Art Incubator and The Golden Egg Hunt Competition! The main prize is - scenic canoe ride down Vilnele river for the winner +3 friends !
Traditional Easter Games
Once the family’s bellies are full of holiday delights, people traditionally take to playing some Easter games. Easter egg rolling is something uniquely Lithuanian. Players prop a rounded chute made of wood or cardboard at an angle from the ground. In turn, they roll eggs down the chute attempting to tap another’s egg. If they succeed in this, they claim both eggs. The player with the most eggs at the end of the game wins.
However, the most exciting game which can continue for a whole day is egg cracking. Two people batle who has the strongest egg. One person is a holder, the other is a tapper, and they tap one egg to another. The one whose eggshell remains intact, wins. Both ends of an egg are to be tapped. This game is fun and that is why many people in Lithuania wishes “strong eggs” to each other for Easter.
How about a little walk?
You might notice we have a church almost every 100 meters in Vilnius? No wonder our capital is also known as pilgrimage destination and sometimes is called A City of Mercy. And what a better way to experience the true meaning of Easter, than to do a little pilgrimage of your own and walk Calvary way of the Cross.
It is one of the largest complexes of Ways of the Cross in Europe, covering seven kilometers. Just like hundreds of years ago, believers go on walking routes to replicate the road of Christ’s suffering. During the Pentecost, the hills here are filled with the songs of tearful pilgrims. More information: https://cityofmercy.lt/en_GB/marsrutai/vilniaus-kalvariju-kryziaus-kelias/
Our tours on Easter
If 7 kilometers hike is a bit too much, then you can join our tours and discover the important sites and stories of Vilnius.
On April 20th ( Holy Saturday) all the tours will be held as usual. So don’t hesitate to join Free Old town and Užupis, Free Alternative, Soviet, Food or Ghost tours.
On April 21st ( Easter Sunday) we will have only one Free Old town and Užupis tour at 12 PM (noon). Jewish and Free Alternative tours are held as usual.
On April 22nd ( Easter Monday) all the tours will be held as usual.