Evangelical Lutheran Baptism in the Tauragė District in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century

  • Jonas Mardosa
Keywords: Tauragė, Evangelical Lutheran, christening, Sacrament of Baptism, baptism, folk piety, godparents


The article deals with Evangelical Lutheran baptism in the Tauragė District in the second half of the twentieth century. The author gives an overview of a historical perspective of the Evangelical Lutherans in the district of Tauragė and introduces the features of the liturgical development of the Christian and Evangelical Lutheran sacrament of baptism and the basis of folk baptism. Ethnographic field research material and ethnological investigation are the primary material sources of this study. With the help of research material, the structure of the traditional Evangelical Lutheran Baptism in the Tauragė district is shown, with emphasis on the preparatory actions of baptism granting the Sacrament of the Baptism, and baptismal feasts. The author maintains that the essence of baptism of the Lithuanian Evangelical Lutherans is a common human ground, and because of that ground common features with the customs of the Catholic baptism are found. The customs of the ceremonies of Lutheran and Catholic baptism share many common points in the perspective of folk devotion.
In the Tauragė district, traditional Evangelical Lutheran baptismal rituals of the first half of the twentieth century have the following specific features: a twoday baptismal feast, decoration of baptismal clothes in myrtles, a baby carrier participating without the presence of the godparents in the granting of the Sacrament of Baptism and specific customs of the welcoming of the baptized infant. Changes in baptism took place in the second half of the twentieth century. The atheist ideology of the Soviet period and changes in people’s lifestyle influenced the disappearance of some specific aspects of baptism, while others remained as a fact of ethno-cultural memory. The significance of entertainment in the ceremony has increased, the age of baptized infants has extended, the ritual position of the baby carrier and the tradition of decorating the baptism covering with myrtles have disappeared, and the parents of the infant, like guests, became only participants in the baptism ceremony in the church. After Lithuania regained its independence, the traditional structure of the baptism has remained, but the aspect of folk piety in baptism has shrunk due to the absence of magic practices.