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Childbirth - Christening

In Lithuania, it was thought that various evil spirits, as well as improper behavior, could harm expectant mothers. For this reason, women had to observe a number of restrictions during pregnancy. It was also the responsibility of the entire village to protect pregnant women.

Childbirth in Lithuania was shrouded in secrecy. The news of a birth was always spoken of using indirect phraseology such as : "The oven fell apart at Petras's" or "It's joyful at Antanas's".

Traditionally, soon after birth, all of the mother's neighbors and relatives came to visit her and her infant. Men never paid such visits, only married women did. Each guest was required to bring at least symbolic gifts for the mother and child, as coming empty-handed was thought to jeopardize the child's good fortune. In many areas, it was customary to bring an omlet or a buckwheat loaf as such a present.

Two or more weeks after the birth, the family held the child's christening in which several pairs of godmothers and godfathers played an important role. The selection of a child's godparents was crucial as it was thought that the child would inherit their temperaments and habits. This process tied families together as the godparents took upon themselves part of the responsibility of raising the child. Historical sources reveal that this tradition predates the introduction of Christianity to Lithuania. In spite of centuries of prohibition, Lithuanians upheld the custom of appointing more than one pair of godparents until the 1940's.



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