What comes to your mind first when you think about Lithuania and its culture? Lithuanian culture has a reputation for being one of the most vibrant, diverse, exciting, and friendly cultures globally. It is this richness that means that there are many approaches to learn more about it. In all its complexity, it can be explored through its language, people, music, art, architecture, food, and a lot more.
Today, we'll focus on the languages of Lithuania, its people, ethnic relations, as well as social etiquette. We will also explore over ten useful phrases to be used in social situations in the Lithuanian language, so keep on reading to learn more.
The only official language in Lithuania and the language you hear most often is Lithuanian (native to about 85% of the population, spoken by 96%). With thousands of years of history and struggle for survival, the Lithuanian language is integral to the national identity. The main minority languages are Russian and Polish, spoken by 8.2% and 5.8% of the population, respectively. Russian speakers mostly live in cities. Among them are not only ethnic Russians but also many Belarusians, Ukrainians, Jews, and representatives of the other former Soviet Union countries, who are collectively called Russian speakers.
The Polish ethnic minority speaks Polish in southeastern Lithuania (including Vilnius). In some cities, Polish is the majority language. Although there are other minorities in Lithuania, it is rare to hear locals (and not foreigners) talking in a language other than Lithuanian, Russian, or Polish. Minority languages are widely used by the respective minorities, and this is facilitated by the government. For example, many public schools use Russian or Polish as the language of instruction. However, any official government texts (e.g., laws or street names) are Lithuanian-only.
In the globalized world of the 21st century, few will be surprised by multi-faith cities. However, in Lithuania, the multi-confessional atmosphere has a long history. In the 19th century, there were temples of more than ten different religions in Vilnius, many of which were non-Christian. Lithuania is a predominantly Catholic country, with Catholics making up about 85% of Lithuania's population. What most people call the Catholic Church is the Roman Catholic branch of Christianity. There are also Orthodox Christians and Lutherans in the country.
The ethnic majority in Lithuania are Lithuanians, who make up 85.08% of the population and are the country's indigenous people. In second place are Poles, mainly concentrated in southeastern Lithuania, including Vilnius. Russians ranked third in terms of the number of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city. The fourth-largest ethnic group in Lithuania is Belarusian, and the fifth-largest ethnic group is Ukrainian. Other ethnic groups in Lithuania include Jews, Germans, Tatars, Latvians, Karims, and Gypsies.
Interethnic relations in Lithuania are generally good. Unlike many European countries, Lithuania's largest ethnic minorities use public schools where instruction is their mother tongue and not the official Lithuanian language.
The country's history largely influences social etiquette and customs in Lithuania.
The Lithuanian greeting is direct eye contact and a smiling handshake. Greetings often include "Pardausi" (Hi/Have a nice day). As the relationship develops, greetings become less formal, and hugs may be part of the greeting. However, always let your Lithuanian friends determine if your friendship has reached that level of intimacy. In Lithuania, small gifts are often given when visiting someone's home.
It is polite to avoid discussing politics or religion in a mixed company. If you are invited to dinner, you do not need to bring anything - the host will prepare enough food and drink for all guests.
Some of the most common phrases to greet a person in Lithuanian are:
|Good Afternoon/Good Day||Laba diena|
|Long time no see||Ilgai nesimatėme|
|It's been a while!||Praėjo šiek tiek laiko!|
|Welcome back!||Sveikas sugrįžęs!|
Lithuania has quite relaxed table manners. Always keep your hands in sight when you eat. Keep your wrists on the edge of the table. Eat a small amount of food first to take a second serving. Napkins should be kept on the table and not on your lap.
To show that you haven't finished eating yet, cross your knife and fork on your plate. When you've finished eating, place your knife and fork on your plate with the tines down and the handles to the right.
The leader makes the first toast. Roasting is usually done using spirits and without wine or beer. You must respond with the same toast later at mealtime. Here are some useful dining etiquette phrases in Lithuanian:
|May I have a glass of..?||Ar galiu išgerti stiklinę..?|
|May I have a cup of..?||Ar galiu išgerti puodelį..?|
|That's enough, thanks.||Užteks, ačiū.|
|It's delicious!||Tai skanu!|
|Have a nice meal.||Skanaus.|
|Can you pass me the salt?||Ar galite perduoti man druskos?|
If you are invited to a Lithuanian home, bringing wine, flowers, or sweets is common. If the host brings something for the hostess, it is considered polite and polite. For Lithuanians, the most popular housewarming gift is wine. If you decide to bring flowers, an odd number of flowers will usually be sent. This is because most Lithuanians are superstitious and believe that the number three brings bad luck.
|I got you something. I hope you like it||Aš tau kažką gavau. Tikiuosi, kad jums patiks.|
|Look what I have for you!||Pažiūrėk, ką aš tau turiu!|
|I thought you might like this.||Maniau, kad tau tai gali patikti.|
|Here's a little present for you.||Štai jums maža dovanėlė.|
|Thank you, I love it!||Ačiū, man tai patinka!|
|What a surprise!||Tai bent staigmena!|
|It is wonderful.||Tai nuostabu.|
|You shouldn't have!||Jūs neturėtumėte!|
|That's so kind.||Tai taip malonu!|
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