The Official Development Agency of the City of Vilnius

Tasting Christmas One Dish at a Time

There are over 100 Lithuanian Christmas Eve dishes and they all share one common trait – they are all meatless (and most of them are vegan). The pre-holiday fast only ends on Christmas Day, so Lithuanians turn to dough and fish on Christmas Eve.

Traditionally, people have 12 different dishes on the Christmas Eve table symbolising the months of the upcoming year. If you want each month to be successful, you should try a bit of all 12.

Poppyseed Milk

It’s as vegan as it gets! Poppyseed milk is made by soaking poppy seeds in hot water, grinding them, then adding more water and a little sugar. It goes well with baked dishes and kūčiukai, which are traditionally soaked in poppy seed milk and then eaten with a spoon. You might not find it readily available in supermarkets, but get a bag of poppy seeds and try making it at home. It’s easy!

Kūčiukai

Literally “Christmas Eve cookies” in Lithuanian, you can purchase these small bits of dough with poppy seeds in any supermarket. The recipe is vegan and in local homes they’re baked before Christmas Eve dinner in copious amounts and then consumed over the course of a few weeks until everyone’s sure they won’t miss them until next Christmas. They are usually eaten with poppy seed milk or a cranberry drink.

You can also perform some Christmas Eve magic – grab a handful of kūčiukai and count them. If the number is even, you’ll find a partner or get married in the next year.

Get the recipe!

Cranberry Drink (Spanguolių kisielius)

Both a drink and a dessert, Spanguolių kisielius is prepared with crushed cranberries, water and a bit of starch for thickness. It can be served hot or cold, depending on your preference. To taste the real thing you should cook it at home, but sometimes you might find it in the supermarkets.

Get the recipe!

Herring

It’s fair to say that no Christmas Eve dinner table is complete without herring. It comes in many forms, but is mostly bought from stores or markets and prepared using family recipes. Try it for a taste of what locals have at festive dinners – you’re sure to see herring in all of its glorious forms at the supermarkets. By the way, if you have a lot of salty herring during dinner, place a cup of water by your bed. Legend has it that whoever hands you the cup in your dream that night will become your future spouse.

Mushroom Dumplings

Every family has their own special recipe, but considering the fast pace of life, some just buy the dumplings at the supermarket. They are usually vegan and easy to prepare. Depending on how you cook them, the dumplings might even serve as savoury little pies.

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