Lithuanian holidays include public holidays observed as days off, traditional festivals that are observed as a part of national heritage, and religious holidays.
Table of Contents
- What Are Lithuania’s Official Public Holidays?
- What Lithuanian Holidays Are Observed?
- How Do Lithuanians Celebrate Holidays?
What Are Lithuania’s Official Public Holidays?
Lithuanian holidays that are official public holidays see store hours shortened and public institutions and other businesses closed. They include:
- New Year’s Day—January 1
- Day of Restoration of the State of Lithuania—February 16
- Day of Restitution of Lithuania’s Independence—March 11
- Easter Sunday and Easter Monday—According to the Church calendars
- Labor Day—May 1
- St. John’s Day—June 24
- Day of King Mindaugas—July 6
- Assumption Day—August 15
- All Saints and All Souls Days—November 1 and 2
- Christmas Eve—December 24
- Christmas Day—December 25
- Day after Christmas—December 26
What Lithuanian Holidays Are Merely Observed?
- Epiphany—January 6
- Valentine’s Day—February 14
- Uzgavenes/Fat Tuesday—According to the Church calendar
- St. Casimir’s Day—March 4
- International Women’s Day—March 8
- Good Thursday, Good Friday, Palm Sunday, and Holy Saturday—According to the Church calendar
- Mother’s Day—First Sunday in May
- Father’s Day—First Sunday of June
- Day of Mourning and Hope—June 14
- Day of Science and Knowledge—September 1
- Halloween—October 31
- New Year’s Eve—December 31
How Do Lithuanians Celebrate Holidays?
Lithuanians love to celebrate holidays, but of course, each day depends on context and history. Some Lithuanian holidays are opportunities for public displays of Lithuanian culture, gathering crowds of people, such as Carnival, while others, such as All Saints and All Souls Day may be more family oriented. Take a look at how Lithuanians celebrate their holidays:
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
Lithuanians mark New Year’s Eve with parties at home or at public venues. Fireworks displays are very popular, and many people gather in public squares to view them. In Vilnius, Cathedral Square, where the Christmas tree continues to stand after Christmas, is one of the most popular outdoor meeting points for welcoming the new year.
Epiphany is a Lithuanian holiday marked with a parade that includes effigies of the three kings. In Vilnius, this parade typically marches from The Gates of Dawn to Cathedral Square and is typically attended by families with children.
Valentine’s Day in Lithuania is largely a commercial holiday, with restaurants running special menu offerings, shops advertising discounts and holiday-appropriate gifts, and flower shops working overtime. Romantic dinners an exchange of presents are typical for this day for those who observe it.
Fat Tuesday or Uzgavenes
Uzgavenes, Lithuania’s version of Fat Tuesday or Carnival, is a day in winter that falls according to the Roman Catholic Church calendar. It’s celebrated with effigies of winter and spring fighting, lots of pancakes, which mimic the color and shape of the sun, and songs and traditional dance. People also wear masks and costumes. A Carnival event is often held on one of the main squares in Vilnius, sometimes accompanied by an outdoor market.
Day of Restoration of the State of Lithuania
On February 16, Lithuanians have a day off to celebrate the restoration of the state of Lithuania. This is the date in 1918 when Lithuania first declared its statehood after WWI. Previously, it had been a part of the Russian Empire, and after the tumult of WWI, Germany had sought for Lithuania and other territories to fall under its authority, so Lithuania needed to act with a declaration of independence.
The original declaration of independence was lost for 100 years, but it was found by a researcher in German archives. In Vilnius, bonfires are typically lit on Gedimino Avenue and the graves of the signatories at Rasos Cemetery are visited by officials, while Holy Mass is held at Vilnius Cathedral. On this Lithuanian holiday, it’s typical to see the colors of the Lithuanian flag, whether as lighting under bridges, on items of clothing, or projected onto buildings.
St. Casimir’s Day
St. Casimir’s Day, which marks the death of St. Casimir, the patron Saint of Lithuania, is celebrated with an enormous outdoor market called Kaziuko Muge, or Kaziukas Fair, on the weekend closest to the holiday in Vilnius. It begins with a parade with characters dressed in typical Lithuanian-style clothing as well as an effigy of St. Casimir himself. The fair runs for three days and attracts vendors from Lithuania and the surrounding countries, who sell handmade goods, Lithuanian folk art, and food.
Day of Restitution of Lithuania’s Independence
Yes, it’s true, Lithuania has two independence days. The second independence day, which falls on March 11, marks the day when Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. Lithuania lost its short-lived independence in 1940, when the USSR annexed it along with Latvia and Estonia. This day is also a day of waving the national flag, and it’s possible to watch a flag-raising ceremony at the Presidential Palace.
Good Thursday, Good Friday, Palm Sunday, Holy Saturday, and Easter
Easter Sunday and Monday are celebrated according to the Roman Catholic calendar by most people in Lithuania, though those who celebrate according to the Russian Orthodox calendar will observe the Easter holidays a week later.
Some families observe long-standing traditions on Good Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday as well use these days to clean the house, decorate eggs, and prepare special foods. On Palm Sunday, Lithuanians may take verbos, or colorful Easter palms, to church. Easter Mass is typically a part of the Easter celebrations.
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May 1 is Labor Day, celebrated on this day in various countries. It is observed as a day off work.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
As in other countries, these days celebrate mothers and fathers and are marked with gift-giving, family meals or gatherings, and family traditions.
Day of Mourning and Hope
The Day of Mourning and Hope, which falls on June 14 each year, remembers those who were deported during the Soviet regime. Mass deportations in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia took place starting on June 14, 1941. Many of the departed people were destined for Siberia. Some died en route, and some never returned.
Ceremonies and memorial events take place on this day. In many cities, the names of the deportees are read out in public.
St. John’s Day
St. John’s Day, June 24, is also known as Jonines or Midsummer Day. It’s largely a Baltic pagan holiday that is closely associated with the summer solstice. As the longest night of the year, it is certainly a time for celebration, and singing traditional songs and jumping over bonfires are some of the ways that Lithuanians celebrate this holiday. The Rumsiskes Open-Air Museum is a great place to see these festivities play out.
Day of King Mindaugas or Statehood Day
This day on July 6 is the Day of King Mindaugas in Lithuania—specifically, the day that Lithuania’s only king was crowned. This Lithuanian holiday is also known as Lithuania’s Statehood Day, not to be confused with either of its independence days. Celebrated since 1991, it represents Lithuania’s long history and recognition as a kingdom. One important aspect of this day is the collective singing of the national anthem.
The Day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is observed on August 15, and while officially a Christian holiday, like many holidays in Lithuania, it combines Christian and Pagan traditions. It marks the day of celebrating the harvest, and Lithuanians may take bouquets of dried flowers, herbs, and berries to church on this day.
Day of Science and Knowledge
September 1 is the day that Lithuanian students resume classes, so this day is appropriately named, celebrating the love of learning. School students bring flowers to their teachers. On this day, shops are also prohibited from selling alcohol, a message to university students to concentrate on their studies rather than partying.
Halloween and All Saints and All Souls Day
Halloween is less celebrated in Lithuania because it is superseded by the more important days that follow on November 1 and 2: All Saints Day and All Souls Day. These days are days of remembrance for the dead, and people go to cemeteries to place candles on gravestones. This somber and beautiful time in Lithuania is typically for families, though anyone can go to the cemeteries to see them aglow with thousands of candles.
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Christmas Holidays in Lithuania
Lithuanian Christmas, called Kaledos, typically includes a large family meal on Christmas Eve, which is often seen as more important than Christmas Day. Throughout December 24-26, Lithuanians celebrate Christmas with their families, sometimes decorating the tree, exchanging gifts, eating special dishes of traditional Lithuanian food, and visiting with friends.
Of course, for visitors, the Christmas holiday season, starting at the end of November and beginning of December, is a showy, beautiful time of year perfect for sourcing Christmas presents, viewing Christmas decorations, and enjoying the related festivities.
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If you’re visiting the country during Lithuanian holidays, it’s a good opportunity to look out for events, parades, markets, and other celebrations that you won’t be able to experience any other time of year. Lithuanians take great pride in their traditions and public celebrations can help you to understand Lithuanian culture on a deeper level.