Christmas is something very close and dear to Lithuanians’ hearts. Christmas Eve dinner (it consists of 12 dishes!) brings all the family together. But that’s at the end of December. If you happen to be in the Lithuanian capital at this time, here are some ideas what you shouldn’t miss while staying here!
It all already started with Vilnius Christmas tree lighting at the Cathedral square last Saturday. Crowds of people came to the lighting ceremony. And here is how it looks like this year!
We actually have high standarts for it as last year “The Guardian” elected Vilnius Christmas tree among the most beautiful ones in the World https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gallery/2015/dec/03/christmas-trees-around-the-world-photographs
If you are here at Christmas Eve, most of the streets will be empty as locals hurry back home to prepare for the most important night of the year. However, after dinner, lots of people go to church for the evening service. Although Cathedral is the most popular church to go, we recommend choosing Bernardinai church (Bernardinų bažnyčia) for that. You will find a nativity scene there with live animals (a donkey and sheep).
A 3D fairytale has been the greatest hit of the Christmas period in Vilnius for the last few years. It wasn’t there in 2015 as the new Vilnius government thought that they should better use the money for other things but seems like they realized they made a mistake and now it’s back! Each year there’s a different story shown on the Cathedral’s wall. If you are in Vilnius 25 – 29 December, come there at 5PM, 6:15PM or 8PM and enjoy a 15 minutes fairytale.
Vilnius has never been famous for its big Christmas market. It’s a rather new thing for us that we are trying to adopt from Western countries, but it gets better with every year. This time you will find it just under the Christmas tree at the Cathedral square. Not the biggest one you have ever seen but sweet and cozy. Make a circle around more than 50 market stalls, taste some hot wine and snacks or maybe even look for Christmas presents for your loved ones! It’s open daily from 26 November till 29 December.
Nowadays, people say that Christmas has become very commercial. If you are not into buying gifts at big shopping malls but want to support local artists, visit Christmas design square at Vinco Kudirkos square (15 – 23 December), Christmas Pop-Up at Kablys (10 – 11 December) or head to Loftas for the Last Minute Market (22 – 23 December).
SOMETHING TO TRY
Traditional Christmas Eve dinner is prepared at home. It includes many meals with fish (as we are supposed to not eat meat that day at all). However, things like spanguolių kisielius (a thick cranberry drink), kūčiukai (kind of cookies) can be found in traditional Lithuanian food restaurants or even supermarkets.
Check http://kaledossostineje.lt for more infor about Christmas events in Vilnius