More than 300 loaves of bread will be distributed to residents and guests of Vilnius city in the Cathedral Square on 4 July. The Folklore Day of the Song Festival 2014, which will start with the symbolic bread-bringing ritual, will fill the capital with a variety of old traditions, and flood the streets of Vilnius city with the melody of folk songs.
Opening of the Song Festival 2014
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

The programme for this year’s event will be enriched by the opportunity to meet with folklore experts, who will spread their knowledge of traditions from their ethnic culture research; together with craftsmen who will demonstrate their traditional trades for the public.

According to the official press release, it is the first time that the Women’s Salon will invite visitors to learn about folk costumes and how to create an authentic overall appearance, in accordance with folk traditions. An exchange of knowledge and skills relating to household work, hunting and brewing will be taking place in the Men’s Forge. It will also be possible to learn about the power of different herbs, which will be revealed in the Herb Garden. During the day, visitors will be invited to stand along the River Vilnelė to form a Ribbon of Happiness, with songs and music, and to decorate it with crowns. All the events of Folklore Day will be linked to the theme of happiness and destiny – patronised by the Baltic goddess of destiny, Laima.

“We want this day to be a reminder of our nation’s roots, from which we developed. Our culture is full of signs showing us how to be creative and how to enrich our lives, and how to successfully fulfil one’s destiny – which, according to the old beliefs, was determined from birth by the goddess Laima. So, this year, by wishing everyone a successful destiny, we dedicate the event to the search for happiness,” said Vida Šatkauskienė, head of the creative group responsible for organising Folklore Day.

The celebrations will start with a symbolic meeting at the Table of Happiness. At 10 o’clock, all participants in the event will bring their loaves of bread to the Cathedral Square and, in doing so, it will become an exposition lasting the whole day. After this ritual, old Lithuanian songs, dances, customs, crafts and national dishes will flood the main areas of Vilnius city – the Cathedral Square, the base of Gediminas Hill, and Bernardinai Garden, where the Laima’s Manor will be established. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, all participants will be invited to ascend Gediminas Hill, following the Freedom Path, to participate in the event dedicated to the historical commemoration of the Road of Freedom of Lithuania – from the Restoration of Independence to the present day. The celebrations will culminate in a concert – Having Opened the Gates for Happiness – in the Cathedral Square. The event will be dedicated to reminding us of the main sources of joy in the lives of happy people. During the event, bread brought from all corners of Lithuania will be distributed.

On the main stages, thematic performances will be taking place: Plentiful Bins will be dedicated to agricultural success; Barn of Love – to customs of love and weddings; House of Happiness – to the traditions of housewarming and Christenings; and Cuckoo’s Garden – to the manifestation of the goddess Laima in life and nature. Spectators will be invited to actively join in the whirlwind of songs, games and dances.

All participants in the festival will surely be pleased with the special programme – The Path and Well of Happiness. Games of understanding, knowledge, mobility and other skills will be taking place throughout the entire area of Laima’s Manor, and people will be able to take part in these games and win prizes for successfully completed tasks. Laima’s Bathhouse will allow people to enjoy hot steam bathing experiences. Visitors will also be able to learn about the traditions and procedures of bathhouses.

320 folk groups and more than 200 craftsmen from across the entire country will invite people to reflect on their lives, to appreciate what we have now, and to enjoy what life has to offer at home. Accompanying them, 10 groups comprised of Lithuanians living in Poland, Latvia, Germany, Great Britain, and Russian Oblast and Karelia regions, will give their performances. This year, there will be more gatherings of families and young people than in previous years.

It will be the first time that the Song Celebration 2014 will coincide with the international folklore festival Baltica, which will be taking place between 1-6 July. On 4 July, Baltica will disgorge into the great event of Folklore Day. “According to our traditions, guests, and this time also guests from distant lands, bring happiness,” said Vida Šatkauskienė.

The Lithuanian Song Celebration is the most important cultural event in the country, connecting all generations and all people, strengthening the identity of the country and spreading the name of Lithuania all over the world. The performers who will be presenting the folk songs, dances, ensembles, brass bands, Baltic psalter music and theatre programmes will be proudly saying “This Is My Home” in Vilnius, between 2-6 July. The festival will also invite people to participate in various entertainment events and to try their hand at traditional crafts. The commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Song Celebration will be taking place on 28 June, in the Valley of Songs, in Kaunas.

Translated by Audra Šeputytė

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