Kūčios – An ancient Lithuanian Christmas Tradition

One of the things I am grateful for this year is visiting Lithuania. We did it on a whim after I read Marija Gimbutas’s biography, she is a renowned Lithuanian archaeologist who loved her origins so much that I wanted to go there and see for myself what she was talking about.

The Open-Air Museum of Lithuania
Traditional costume from Aukštaitija (Highlands) region

I fell deeply in love with this country and Lithuanian cuisine has become my all time favorite, which I often include in our family meals. Their cuisine is simple, understated and very very tasteful just like their traditional interiors and their flat and forested landscape.

The Open-Air Museum of Lithuania in Rumšiškės
The Open-Air Museum of Lithuania
Traditional costume from Suvalkija (SV) region

Lithuanians have a special 12 courses meal for Christmas Eve (Kūčios), meat and dairy free. Kūčiukai or preskūčiai are small cookies eaten for dessert on this evening, which represent the souls of ancestors and are also a symbol of the last supper.

Here is the recipe from Beata Nicholson’s book: Mix 20 g fresh yeast with 2 tbsp milk and 1 tsp sugar and let it bubble. Sift 400 g flour, add the yeast, 200 ml poppy seed milk (or regular milk) at room temperature, 50 g sugar, 4 tbsp vegetable oil and 2 tbsp poppy seeds.

Knead the dough and let it rise until it doubles in size. Roll the dough in 0.5 cm strands and cut it in small pieces. Bake in preheated oven at 180 C for 10-15 min.

You can eat them like this or with milk.

Merry Christmas! Linksmų Kalėdų!

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