Verbos, margučiai and other Easter folk magic and charms

Easter time for Christians all over the world is the most special and sacred time of the year. In Lithuania, it comes after long and cold winter with the awakening of nature and it starts with Palm Sunday called Verbų Sekmadienis in Lithuanian. Differently from most other Christian countries where churches provide people with palms,  in Lithuania Catholics go to the church and bring homemade Palm Sunday bouquets to be blessed during a mass believing that they will protect their home from evil and bad luck for the whole year. As we know Lithuania is not Jerusalem nor Italy or Spain as the climate is too rigid and cold for palm trees, however,  Lithuanians use a good substitute which is juniper or ornate unique local homemade „palms’’  called Verbos. These are beautiful colourful bouquets made of different dried flowers,  rye stems and willow branches that represent palm branches that were laid in Christ’s path.  Most of the Verbos are usually created by local artisans and sold in markets before Easter, mostly at St Kasimir fair or on Palm Sunday next to the majority of churches.  The most artistic and beautiful  Verbos are made in the southeast region of Lithuania which is around Vilnius, the capital of the country. 
After Palm, Sunday during the Holy Week Lithuanians start preparing for the Easter Sunday celebration by decorating Easter eggs (margučiai), which have been always seen as a symbol of fertility and life. Lithuanians believe that decorating eggs give them some magic and mystic powers, hence the eggs are decorated by all. Lithuanians have deeply-rooted egg decoration traditions such as using tree bark, plants, leaves or grass for pattern creation and then boiling them in brown onion skin. Other popular methods of decoration are drawing ornaments with hot wax on the surface of the egg or hand-carving previously coloured eggs to create ornaments. All methods require a lot of patience but the result is rewarding. According to Lithuanian traditions egg decoration patterns are all related to symbols of nature, such as sun, leaves, snakes, birds, stars, flowers. Even the colours have meanings: yellow represents harvest, red – the life, blue – the sky, green symbolizes the awakening of nature while black eggs represent the ground.
Easter Sunday celebration starts in the morning. First of all, catholic families go to the church bringing decorated eggs for the blessing and then all the family gathers to enjoy the festive breakfast. Before eating Lithuanians have a tradition to play the egg tapping game in order to nominate the strongest egg. Each person picks an egg and taps another family member’s egg to choose the one whose eggshell remains intact. It is believed that the holder of the strongest egg will remain healthy, will have great luck and prosperity for the upcoming year. Another tradition is the egg-rolling game. The eggs are rolled down the wooden slide in order to hit the opponent’s egg. An old superstition says that Easter eggs have magic powers to bring the land back to life after the winter. If you rolled it over dead land, it would come back to life.  
Have a meaningful Holy Week and Happy Easter time!