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The old Religion

The Lithuanians had a rich archaic mythology and religion comparable to the religions of India, Greece, Rome, etc. Its most important feature was its close connection with nature: plants, animals, fire and water – the entire surrounding world was held sacred. The Lithuanian Pantheon was similar to that of the other ancient counties of Europe, with gods for all states of life. “Dievas” was the lord of the sunny firmament, and the guard of order and harmony on earth and in heaven. “Perkūnas“ was the god of thunder and protector of soldiers and their commanders. “Velnias” (his name was later...

Christmas customs and their pagan origins

Because the festive aspects of the German-American Christmas, including the tree, were considered pagan, the Puritans in New England shunned them until about 1875. They were not entirely wrong! It is generally acknowledged that the Christmas tree is of German origin. In the pre-Christian era the oak was the sacred tree for the Germanic peoples. Legend has it that the missionary to the Germans, St. Boniface, in order to stop sacrifices at their sacred Donar Oak near Geismar, chopped the tree down [725 A.D.]. He is said to have replaced the oak by a fir tree, adorned in tribute to...

Lithuania's nature religions, the place in Europe where heathendom survived for the longest time

Lithuania, on the shore of the Baltic Sea, has had a very intriguing role in European development, in various ways: militarily, economically, politically and religiously. It was the last country to accept Christianity, in 1387, as part of the marriage agreement between Grand Duke Jogaila and Jadwiga, Queen of Poland. The new faith lived in conjunction with the old nature-based beliefs; and well into the twentieth century in certain regions. Modern Lithuanians are an unusual amalgam of Catholicism and a fierce pride in their pagan past. Many will proudly state that Grand Duke Jogaila and his cousin Grand Duke Vytautas...