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Kūčios (Christmas Eve)

We always end the year with 12 dishes on the table – this is the most important tradition of the Kūčios dinner that we eat on Christmas Eve. The 12 dishes symbolise the months of the year, and we invite the people who are closest to us to partake of them on Christmas Eve – we cover the table with a white tablecloth with a handful of fine hay underneath it, and eat everything that nature gives us: grains, seeds and nuts, dried fruit, fish and vegetables. The most important dishes on the Kūčios table are kūčia – a boiled cereal dish with dried fruit and honey, and kūčiukai – sweet nuggets made from leavened dough and served with poppy seed milk. You won’t find any meat, dairy products or eggs though – the old tradition encourages fasting.