Collection: Lithuanian festivals in Lithuania
A: “In Lithuania, are there any festivals?”
B: “Oh, let me tell you. We have a singing festival and a dancing festival, and these happen um every two years and and then I guess every two years, one of them is in Lithuania and one is somewhere around the world. So this year there is going to be one in Lithuania, whereas last year there was one in Baltimore. They have had them in Japan, China, Australia, Boston, places like that. So basically, it’s a joint festival where folk dancers or folk dancing groups from around the world, that practice — I’m in one in L.A. called Spindulys. Um *giggles* — practice every week and learn all these dances. And they come together and perform these dances; there are like 3,000 dancers all in sync in the national clothing, I guess the folkloric outfit. *laughs* And it’s a three-day event, so there is two day like two hour performances of the dances, and they have a showcase of singing all of the songs, but I’m not in a singing group. And they sing the traditional Lithuanian songs.”
A: “So essentially, it’s two of the same festival in two different places each year? Or one is dancing and one is singing?”
B: “Um… one is dancing and one is singing, but it’s the same festival kind of. I guess it’s just put together, so I guess it’s one festival.”
The informant went on to describe another version of the traditional Lithuanian festival which takes place in California called L.T. Days. The community within the United States created a local Lithuanian gathering which happens once a year. This festival has around 500 people, but the larger festival in Lithuania gets around 15,000 attendees. At L.T. Days, the informant participates in the traditional folk dancing with her group.
Context: According to the informant, the original Lithuanian festivals stemmed from Soviet control over Lithuania; Lithuanians held “small festivals underground… to keep the song and dance of Lithuania alive and to keep the language alive. And they did it behind the backs of the policeman.” Nowadays, the festivals are held to celebrate traditional Lithuanian customs and practices.
Interpretation: The community often plays a major role in festivals as demonstrated by the informant’s discussion. Also, festivals are known to have symbolic references to protect or preserve community ideals and identity, just as the Lithuanian festivals hold onto song, dance, apparel, and more.
“ FROM THE HISTORY OF SONG CELEBRATIONS.” Song Festival 2018.
According to the Lithuanian Song Celebration website, festivals praises “creative self-expression, vitality of the national culture, love for the homeland and solidarity of its people.” Further, festivals are one of the most significant ways to connect distant people both geographically and culturally. The article also references the Soviet period in which Lithuanians celebrated discretely to maintain their culture.