Customs and traditions
Among the country’s majority people, the Lithuanians, the feeling for the family and the nation can generally be said to be strong. Elements such as folk music, national traditions and Lithuanian history are important. The memory of the Lithuanians’ fierce opposition to the Soviet Union’s oppression is central to national identity.
According to Abbreviationfinder, the Lithuanians have always resisted opposition – from the medieval struggle against the German crusaders to the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. The opposition has also been directed against the independent Lithuanian ruler.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Lithuania, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
The Catholic Church was of great importance in preserving the nation’s identity during the Soviet era and in preparing the path to independence. Although religion has since lost ground among younger Lithuanians, the influence of the church can still be clearly seen at holidays, such as during Saint Kasimir’s feast in March or the celebration of naming days rather than birthdays.
Know and label
The Lithuanians are not as punctual as their Baltic neighbors in the north. Social interaction can be extended, hospitality can extend far into the small hours. A Lithuanian often draws closer to his interlocutor than does letter and ester. In queues they usually do not keep distance and place. The one who is most elusive rarely comes before the one who has waited longer.
Respect for people with authority is recommended. If a subordinate in a visitor group addresses a highly ranked Lithuanian businessman directly, it can be seen as a label offense. Idleness and meekness are seen as good qualities, while boastful people are considered arrogant. At the same time, many are impressed by, for example, fine titles or high education, so a visitor should not hide their status.
It is important not to show anger or outrage, although it is easy to become frustrated with, for example, the bureaucracy in society. Showing interest in the countryside, history and art of the Lithuanians is important, as well as not confusing Lithuanians with letters or clumping the Baltic states.
Western clothing style applies. Folk costumes are used at festivals and parties. The traditional costume for women consists of a colorful woven skirt, embroidered blouse, vest and headgear with ribbons.
To greet and converse
Labas (hello) and Laba diena (good day) are the everyday words of greeting in Lithuanian. It is common to greet with a handshake, direct eye contact and a smile. Once a relationship is established, the greeting can become more free and also consist of a hug. The Lithuanians themselves decide when friendship has reached this point.
Formally, people with titles and surnames are addressed. As a visitor you wait until you are asked to use the first name. Male friends shake hands with each other when they meet in a cafe or on the street but not indoors or at home. It is a remnant of superstition, something that is quite common in Lithuania.
Discussions can be lively. You can express clear personal opinions, but it should be done with good behavior. Lithuanians are often good listeners but also like to talk, so you should not talk too long yourself.
Face-to-face meetings are usually preferred. Lithuanians often want to develop friendly relationships first, and then discuss business. Therefore, the visitor should treat Lithuanians as friends: try to develop a personal relationship, have personal opinions rather than official, willing to show feelings and be willing to have deeper discussions.
You should avoid pointing with your index finger (use your whole hand), and having your hands in your pants pockets when talking.
Invitations and eating habits
At a dinner party, guests often bring small gifts in the form of wine, flowers or sweets to the hostess. The number of flowers should be odd if it does not concern grief. Chrysanthemums are used at funerals and white flowers at weddings.
The traditional kitchen usually consists of solid and fatty food, which is a legacy of the hard work and cold climate of the peasant community. It is served with beetroot soup, smoked meat and national dish cepelinai, which is similar to body cakes made from mashed potatoes and stuffed with minced meat. Food plays a big role at holidays. An elaborate long table is a sign of hospitality and prosperity. Salads, cold cuts and breads with tea, juice, vodka, wine or gira (a carbonated beverage made from cereals) are followed by a main course, song, conversation and maybe dessert and coffee. They are usually toasted in liquor and not in wine or beer.
The table is quite relaxed, but there are some rules to follow. Guests wait to sit down until invited. The napkin should be on the table, not in the lap. If the visitor crosses the knife and fork on the plate, it means that he / she wants more food. Crossing them with the forks facing down and the handles to the right means you don’t want any more.
You have to set the time for business meetings, preferably a few weeks in advance. It is an advantage to send a list of visitors and their titles, so that the hosts can gather a group at the corresponding level. The meeting must then be confirmed close in time, cancellations at short notice may occur. You have to arrive on time, punctuality is important.
The meetings are formal in style, but they can start with cold talk for the parties to get to know each other. The presentations are often elaborate but clear. Lithuanians are usually not as bound by an agenda as the Estonians, for example. They sometimes tend to be relatively contentious in negotiations, and emotions can sometimes creep in.
Business is slow due to the bureaucratic nature of society. If you do not get in touch with a high-ranking person directly, you must be prepared for lower-level meetings before reaching the real decision makers. Lithuanians often use time as tactics, especially if they know the counterpart has a deadline.
Traditions and holidays
According to Countryaah, Easter and Christmas are important religious holidays. Nationalism is manifested in Independence Days, February 16 (1918), when Lithuania declared itself free from Russia, and March 11 (1990), when Lithuania proclaimed its independence from the Soviet Union.
The Lithuanians pay attention to the deportations to Siberia on March 25 (1949) and June 14 (1941), as well as the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbon Troop Pact on August 23 (1939), when the Soviet Union and Germany divided Eastern Europe between them.
Official National Day is July 6. It is celebrated in memory of the coronation of Lithuania’s first king, Mindaugas, in 1253.
The national anthem, Lithuania, our homeland (Lietuva, Tėvyne mūsų), was banned during the Soviet era and gained great importance in the struggle for independence.
Important company must be closed down
The Constitutional Court declares that the holding company Leo LT must be wound up because its construction violates the Constitution. This means high costs for the government. Leo LT would have been responsible for the construction of a new nuclear power plant and for an electric cable to Sweden (see Natural Resources and Energy).
The budget is ready for 2010
After lengthy negotiations, the government gets through next year’s budget in Parliament. It contains reductions in salaried employees’ salaries, pensions and compensation for the unemployed.
The second and last reactor at the Ignalina nuclear power plant will be closed (see Natural Resources and Energy).
The President is dismissed
President Valinskas is cast in a vote of confidence in Parliament.
Language barriers provoke protests
The Supreme Administrative Court upholds a lower court ruling banning languages other than Lithuanian on street signs. Municipalities with Polish- or Russian-speaking populations are ordered to take down signs with Polish or Russian street names. Fines can be imposed for refusal. Polish-speaking residents protest against the ban.
The President is under pressure
President Grybauskaitė calls on the President of Parliament Arūnas Valinskas to resign after being accused of contacts with persons in organized crime. Valinskas denies the charges and refuses to resign.
Public wages are lowered
In order to reduce the budget deficit, the government decides on wage cuts in the public sector by between 5 and 24.5 percent. The lowest salary gets the lowest reduction and the highest salary is lowered the most. Ingrida Šimonytė takes over as Finance Minister after Algirdas Šemeta, who succeeds President Grybauskaitė as EU budget commissioner.
Strong GDP fall
During the second quarter of the year, GDP fell by just over 20 percent compared to the same period the year before. During the same period, unemployment rises to 13.6 percent according to official statistics.
Grybauskaitė wins the presidential election
Dalia Grybauskaitė wins the presidential election with over 66 percent of the vote against Social Democratic candidate Algirdas Butkevičius, who gets just under 12 percent.
The government is criticized for the financial crisis
Industrial production decreases by over 15 percent on an annual basis. The EU budget commissioner and Lithuania’s former finance minister Dalia Grybauskaitė are running for president in May. She criticizes the government’s handling of the financial crisis.
Protests against the revolving belt policy
The economic austerity is being met by popular protests that rally during a demonstration outside Parliament in Vilnius. Hundreds of young people vandalize the parliament building and the police force respond with tear gas and rubber bullets. Over 150 people are arrested and many injured.
Rapid economic downturn
The economy continues to weaken rapidly. Retail, which has contributed strongly to previous growth, falls by more than 31 percent on an annual basis in January.