The Lithuanian language (lietuvi kalba) is the country’s official state language and is recognized as one of the European Union’s official languages. In Lithuania, there are approximately 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers, with another 0.2 million living overseas.
Lithuanian is a Baltic language that is closely related to Latvian, but the two languages are incomprehensible to each other. It is written in a Roman script that has been modified. Lithuanian is thought to be the most linguistically conservative extant Indo-European language, preserving numerous Proto Indo-European characteristics.
There is a significant amount of Lithuanian literature written in Latin, the Middle Ages’ primary academic language. The edicts of Lithuanian King Mindaugas are a great example of this kind of writing. Another important legacy of Lithuanian Latin literature is Gediminas’ Letters.
In the 16th century, the first Lithuanian literary works in the Lithuanian language were produced. Martynas Mavydas composed and published The Simple Words of Catechism, the first printed Lithuanian book, in 1547, marking the birth of printed Lithuanian literature. Mikalojus Dauka with Katechizmas was just behind him. Lithuanian literature in the 16th and 17th centuries, like that of the rest of Christian Europe, was mainly religious.
Kristijonas Donelaitis, one of the most important writers of the Age of Enlightenment, brings the old (14th–18th century) Lithuanian literature to a close. The Seasons, a poem by Donelaitis, is a milestone in Lithuanian fiction writing.
Maironis, Antanas Baranauskas, Simonas Daukantas, and Simonas Staneviius exemplify Lithuanian literature in the first half of the nineteenth century, with a combination of Classicism, Sentimentalism, and Romanticism. The Lithuanian press was banned during the Tsarist conquest of Lithuania in the 19th century, leading to the creation of the Knygneiai (Book Smugglers) organization. This movement is credited for ensuring the survival of Lithuanian language and literature to the present day.
Juozas Tumas-Vaigantas, Antanas Vienuolis, Bernardas Brazdionis, Vytautas Maernis, and Justinas Marcinkeviius exemplify 20th-century Lithuanian literature.
Arts and museums
The Lithuanian Art Museum, first opened in 1933, is the country’s biggest museum of art conservation and exhibition. The Palanga Amber Museum is one of the most significant museums in the area, with amber artifacts making up a large portion of the collection.
Mikalojus Konstantinas iurlionis (1875–1911), an internationally famous musician, was perhaps the most well-known person in Lithuania’s cultural world. The asteroid 2420 iurlionis, discovered in 1975, is named after him. Kaunas is home to the M. K. iurlionis National Art Museum and the Vytautas the Great War Museum, Lithuania’s sole military museum.
Lithuanian folk music is associated with neolithic corded ware civilization and belongs to the Baltic music branch. In Lithuanian-populated regions, two instrument cultures collide: stringed (kankli) and wind instrument cultures. Lithuanian folk music is ancient, mainly utilized for rituals, and has paganism religious components. In Lithuania, there are three historical singing styles associated with ethnic regions: monophony, heterophony, and polyphony. Sutartins, Wedding Songs, War-Historical Time Songs, Calendar Cycle and Ritual Songs, and Work Songs are examples of folk song genres.
Mikalojus Konstantinas iurlionis is the most well-known painter and composer in Lithuania. He composed about 200 pieces of music throughout his brief life. His writings have had a significant impact on contemporary Lithuanian culture. Only after his death were his symphonic poems In the Forest (Mike) and The Sea (Jra) played.
Vytautas Mikinis (born 1954) is a professor, composer, and choir director of the uoliukas, a well-known Lithuanian boys’ chorus. He is well-liked both in Lithuania and internationally. He has approximately 400 secular works and around 160 religious works to his credit.
Choral music is extremely significant in Lithuania. Vilnius is the only city to have three European Grand Prix for Choral Singing laureates (Brevis, Jauna Muzika, and Chamber Choir of the Conservatoire). The Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival (Dain vent) has a long-standing history. In 1924, the first one was held in Kaunas. The event has been held every four years since 1990 and attracts about 30,000 singers and folk dancers from all across the nation. The Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival was classified as a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2008, together with its Latvian and Estonian counterparts.
Marijonas Mikutaviius is well known for writing the unofficial Lithuanian national song, “Trys milijonai” (English: Three million).
Lithuanian cuisine uses ingredients that are suitable to the country’s cold, wet northern climate: barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, berries, and mushrooms are all produced locally, and dairy products are a specialty. Lithuanian food has some parallels to Scandinavian cuisine since it shares its climate and agricultural methods with Northern Europe. Nonetheless, it has distinct characteristics that have been shaped by a number of forces throughout the course of the country’s long and arduous history.
Lithuanians, Poles, and Ashkenazi Jews share numerous foods and drinks as a result of their shared history. Dumplings (koldnai, kreplach, or pierogi), doughnuts spurgos or (pczki), and blynai crêpes are examples (blintzes). German food impacted Lithuanian cuisine, bringing pig and potato dishes such potato pudding (kugelis or kugel) and potato sausages (vdarai), as well as the baroque tree cake akotis. Eastern (Karaite) cuisine is the most exotic of all the influences, and the dishes kibinai and eburekai are famous in Lithuania. During Napoleon’s journey through Lithuania in the 19th century, the Torte Napoleon was created.