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An interesting Christmas tradition in Lithuania is the celebration of "Kūčios," the traditional Christmas Eve dinner on December 24th. This evening is one of the most significant days of the Christmas season for Lithuanians and has a long history.
A particular tradition of Kūčios is fasting during the day. It is believed that this fasting will bring good luck in the coming year.
Traditionally, during Kūčios, 12 different dishes are served, representing the twelve apostles. These dishes are often meatless and include fish, sauerkraut, beans, dried fruits, honey, bread, and more.
It is an old Lithuanian tradition to place straw under the tablecloth to remind of the manger where Jesus was born.
Kūčios is a time for families and friends to eat together and share the joy of the Christmas season. The meal is often accompanied by deep traditions and meanings, emphasizing the importance of community, gratitude, and appreciation during the Christmas season. It's a time when people reflect on what truly matters and cherish the closeness of their family and friends.
After the dinner, people often sing Christmas carols and share stories about family and past Christmases.
Šaltibarščiai is a traditional Lithuanian cold beet soup often referred to as "Lithuanian Cold Borsch."
The main ingredient of Šaltibarščiai is beets, which are grated or diced. They are mixed with sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt to sour the soup and give it a creamy texture. Additionally, hard-boiled eggs, spring onions, fresh dill, and cucumbers are often added to complement the flavor and texture.
The soup is typically served well chilled and garnished with fresh dill. It is a refreshing and healthy option that is particularly popular in Lithuania during hot summer days. However, Šaltibarščiai is also prepared and enjoyed on various festive occasions, including Christmas. The unique combination of beets and sour cream gives this soup its distinctive taste and vibrant pink color.
Here is a simple recipe for Šaltibarščiai:
• 2 large beets, cooked and peeled
• 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
• 2 spring onions, finely chopped
• 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
• 500ml sour cream or yogurt
• 1 liter buttermilk
• 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
• Juice of 1 lemon
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Optional: Fresh herbs for garnish
1. Grate or dice the cooked and peeled beets and place them in a large bowl.
2. Add the chopped hard-boiled eggs, spring onions, and diced cucumber.
3. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream (or yogurt) and buttermilk. Add the juice of one lemon and mix well.
4. Pour the sour cream-buttermilk mixture over the beets, eggs, and vegetables in the bowl.
5. Add the fresh dill and gently stir the soup.
6. Season with salt and pepper, and make sure the soup is well chilled before serving.
7. Before serving, you can garnish the soup with fresh herbs if desired.
Enjoy your homemade Šaltibarščiai!
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