Thursday, April 23, 2009

Question for my readers

Last year I taught "Lithuania: The Biggest Medieval Country Of Which You Might Not Have Heard" at Pennsic University. The link to the class handout is here (and it's also linked to the first post in this blog).

The deadline for getting courses listed in the Pennsic XXXVIII book is coming up FAST (a week from tomorrow, I think). Do you think I should teach this course again? Should I change the focus at all? I'm not sure that I have enough material to stretch into two separate one-hour classes, although I will try to work on that for Pennsic XXXIX in 2010.

Comments and suggestions welcome!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Margutis time!

Easter Sunday hasn't started yet where I live, but I'm sure the preparations have been going on for a while now. For many of us, the preparation involves coloring eggs.

A month ago, at Atlantia's Kingdom Arts & Sciences Festival, a woman was running a demonstration of making pysanky, or Ukranian Easter eggs. I had the opportunity to make one myself. I can't say I'm the world's greatest artist, but here's how mine turned out:

I enjoyed doing this pysanka, certainly. But how would it fit in with my Lithuanian persona?

Well, as you might suspect, pysanky are part of a lot of Eastern European cultures. The Lithuanians use the word margutis for this type of artwork; it doesn't sound much like pysanky, but there you have it. Lithuanian eggs tend to be a little more muted than their Ukrainian counterparts, with more earth tones, and different patterns too. Right after the Kingdom Arts & Sciences Festival, I found this example. I also found a page describing Lithuanian Easter customs. It's interesting to read through the customs and tease out the old Pagan traditions mingled in with the Christianity. The essay also explains why, for years, I could never find other people who did "egg fights" with hard-boiled eggs on Easter Sunday, the way my family did. It's a Lithuanian custom! My father must have gotten it from his Lithuanian-immigrant parents.

By searching around a bit, I found more examples of Lithuanian decorated eggs. You can probably find more, especially if you search on the word margutis. Finally, through the Web site of the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago, I found an online tribute to Ramute Plioplys, a folk artist in the Lithuanian tradition.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Millennium Odyssey

I can't believe I haven't already mentioned that this year is the millennial year of Lithuania! Well, specifically, it's the 1000th anniversary of the first mention of Lithuania in a manuscript (the Quedlinburg Annals). Of course, the nation is commemorating the round number in typical fashion.
One thing I think is cool is the Millennium Odyssey -- the voyage of the yacht Ambersail around the world to visit "Lithuanian communities" on five continents. The ship arrived in Miami just two days ago. Sad to say, although Baltimore has a thriving Lithuanian American community, the Ambersail won't be sailing up the Chesapeake Bay to the Inner Harbor. It's bypassing Maryland and Washington, D.C., and going straight to New York. :-(
Ah, well, next month the annual Lithuanian festival will still take place in the Baltimore suburbs, and I'll have my fill of culture for another year.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just a quick update

I've created a "syndicated feed" for this blog over at LiveJournal, where I have been active for many years. Mostly I'm doing this post as a test to make sure the feed is working.

If you're new to this blog, please feel free to check out the older entries and also my Pennsic 37 class handout.

Topics I would like to cover in the not-so-distant future include period Lithuanian documents and my upcoming adventures in the world of SCA tents.