Lithuanian Hospitality

On Sunday, I once again had a wonderful experience of Lithuanian hospitality when a Lithuanian American friend invited me to join her family for Easter dinner with Lithuanian friends of hers.  For five hours, three generations ate and enjoyed each others company.   The kids spent most of the time playing outside on the warm evening, while the adults sat around the table and talked and talked.

Lithuanians can be reserved in public — they certainly often aren’t overtly friendly.  But if you are lucky enough to be invited to a Lithuanian home, you will experience an overwhelming hospitality.  Like many cultures, Lithuanian hospitality is centered around food.  I’ve finally become brave enough to say “no thank you” after a while, because otherwise the food just keeps on coming.  Even dropping in for a quick visit requires a cup or tea or coffee and chocolates.  Unlike Americans, Lithuanians don’t seem to spend much time in small talk.  I enjoy these conversations because Lithuanians will ask me direct questions about my opinions and experiences.  And they will challenge me to really engage with what I think and with what they think.  While I appreciate respect for privacy and other people’s sensitivities, sometimes it seems that Americans have become so afraid of offending the other person that we often have shallow conversations rather than dealing with real issues in our lives and society.

In part, my experience is that of a foreigner.  People are interested in talking to me because I am an American.  But I do think that there is a spirit of hospitality — of welcoming the stranger into one’s home — and also engaging with others in a meaningful way, of really talking not just chatting, that exists in Lithuania.  It’s one of the characteristics that keep me coming back.


About amanda

Creating academic and public environments for the humanities to flourish Researching Soviet and Eastern European history Engaging people and ideas as a writer and interviewer Traveling as much as possible View all posts by amanda

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