Lithuanian Leisure and Holidays: Features of Formation of the Lithuanian Ethnic-Cultural Space in Vilnius and Puńsk-Sejny Regions

  • Žilvytis Šaknys
Keywords: youth, ethnic identity, leisure, holiday, Lithuanian ethnic-cultural space


The article aims to reveal links between leisure and public holidays and the ethnic identity of young people in the formation of Lithuanian ethnic-cultural space in Vilnius and Puńsk-Sejny regions. To achieve the goal, the following objectives were established: (1) to reveal the concept of ethnic-cultural space and the possibilities for its formation, (2) to analyse the peculiarities of leisure time that brought the Lithuanians together, (3) to reveal the manifestation of ethnicity in the customs of religious festivals, and (4) to analyse the rituals of national holidays. The research showed that the features of “Lithuanian leisure” and “Lithuanian holidays” could be traced to the end of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century when they evolved in Lithuanian ethnographic areas outside the territory of the Republic of Lithuania or in Lithuania that had lost its statehood. Leisure time and holidays are a significant element of the ethnic-cultural space: whether secretly or legally, by means of the national symbols (flag, coat of arms, anthem, paintings of dukes), the language, and the social focus of the compatriots, they outline the boundaries of “Lithuanianness”, shape the ethnic identity, and enable resistance to the processes of ethnic assimilation. On the other hand, public cultural events of Lithuanian societies are also important for the modernisation of youth entertainment, initiating the cultivated communication between young people. The article is based on the material that the author collected during the fieldwork of 1988–2018 in Lithuania, Poland, and Belarus, as well as on other studies, archival sources, and publications.