Visual Representation of the Soviet Ritual Year: Vilnius in the Soviet Lithuanian New Year Greeting Cards

  • Evelina Atminytė
Keywords: ritual year, greeting, greeting card, Soviet period


The aim of the article is to introduce the New Year greeting discourse and the range of its meaning as it is presented on the recto side of official Soviet Lithuanian New Year greeting cards. Even though the New Year used to be celebrated in the pre­Soviet era, it was adapted to meet the needs of Soviet ideology during the Soviet occupation of Lithuania. Greeting cards, among other media, were used to achieve the aim as they played a significant role in (re)creating the visual representation of the holiday.

The analysis of greeting cards issued by official Soviet publishing houses revealed that in some cases the New Year greeting discourse was based on the public space of Vilnius. Further analysis of these cards allowed concluding that even though the New Year discourse was highly ideologised (e. g., the flag of the Lithuanian SSR was used to mark Vilnius as a Soviet city), it was not straightforward. On the contra­ ry, the visual representation of the New Year holiday was often playful, sometimes merged with the rhetoric meaning of the image. In addition, in some cases the spec­ ificity of the visual expression was favourable for the manifestation of Aesopian language. The latter conclusion is based on the analysis of the recto side of these cards, but the meaning conveyed to the greeting cards by the actual participants of the greeting ritual could be (partly) revealed by the means of ethnographic fieldwork.