December has begun and the streets are draped in Christmas festivity. In Lithuania, where there are many devout Christians, the period from December 1 to 24 is called Adventas, and you are not allowed to have lavish parties or weddings or other ceremonies. You must wait serenely for the Nativity and spend your time quietly reflecting over the events of the past year. (Although younger people keep having fun!) Children anxiously await Christmas, opening one window numbered 1 to 24 on an advent calendar each day from the first of December. Advent calendar. Open the window to find a chocolate behind it. Then, on the day of Christmas Eve, you cannot eat anything from the morning on. Twelve dishes are prepared for the 12 apostles. These dishes cannot be made with meat or dairy products. Since you cannot use meat or dairy products, the dishes are inevitably vegetable-based. You must try all of the 12 dishes, but you cannot finish them. The dishes are left out without cleaning up until the following morning. (It is like an offering.) Aside from that, this is another essential part of Christmas. Aguonu Pienas directly translates to poppy seed milk. The black grains are poppy seeds. These are edible poppy seeds and do not have a narcotic affect. It tastes like cookies marinated in sugar water, but is absolutely delicious. And, for some reason, I always feel sleepy after drinking it. (An effect of the poppy seeds?) Incidentally, do you know what this is? Is it a candle holder? No, it isn’t. The correct answer is that you use it like this. It is a Christmas tree stand. I think it is unusual to decorate an actual live pine tree as a Christmas tree in Japanese homes, but that is normal over here. People living in rural places search for nice-looking trees in the forest and cut it down themselves, but in Vilnius, live pine trees to use as Christmas trees are sold all over the city from the start of December. It is like the end of the year in Japan, when shimekazari straw New Year’s decorations go on sale on all the street corners. Lastly, please enjoy this video of the Christmas tree erected in front of the cathedral in Vilnius where I live. By the way, if you look back at the title, you may feel angry, thinking, “What? There’s nothing about curry written here!” In Lithuania, Christmas is called Kalėdos (with a pronunciation that is similar to ‘curry-dose’). I will leave you with that fantastic pun.
- Hiroshi Yamauchi
- AgeSnake（ HEBI ）
- JobRestaurant owner
- It’s been three years since he fells in love with the Baltic state of Lithuania and emigrated here without really thinking it through. He runs a restaurant (which would sound cool, but it’s actually just a diner) as Lithuania’s first-ever Japanese owner/chef. He lives a relaxed life outside the capital city of Vilnius with his wife, daughter, and dog.