Saturday, 19 December 2009

Straw Decorations

Christmas must be the nicest holiday of the year as it‘s the time when everything seems so mysterious and special. We remember the old traditions and try to do things as they‘ve been done many years ago by our ancestors. We follow certain rituals and know that they have great meaning – for e.g. here in Lithuania on Christmas Eve on a white table cloth we put twelve dishes (as there were 12 disciples) and under the table cloth we put some straw (as Jesus was born in a stable). Although this holiday has been changed a lot by keen businessmen it’s nice to know that we haven’t forgotten what it’s all about.

I’d use every opportunity to learn something new about old ways and traditions, so last Wednesday I attended a lesson for everyone who wanted to try and make straw Christmas tree decorations, which have been very popular before the glittery bauble times.

It wasn’t very difficult and I enjoyed it a lot, but there’s a problem – these days it’s a big dilemma where to get straw. It has to be gathered in the summer: end of July, beginning of August; and if you don’t know any farmers… hmm… you’d need to pick some from someone’s fields. But if the idea of “scrumpping” doesn’t appeal I suppose you could use reeds instead.

Symmetry is very important, so all of the straws you will use have to be the same length, width and preferably colour (colour differs depending on the type of the straw (rye or wheat) and the are ways how to make it brighter – you have to boil your straw in water with baking soda).

You have to use a needle that would be longer than your straws, so that you could take it out at the other end. And the thread has to be similar colour to your straw, so that it wouldn’t be noticeable. (We as beginners got a bright orange one, so that it would be easier to untangle it if need be.)

The outcome: a rather complex symmetrical shape that, after decorating it with dried flowers, doesn’t look too bad.

On the other hand you’ve probably never seen traditional Lithuanian carcass shapes that are called "gardens". They are very complex and ornate, decorated with straw birds, garlands, dried flowers and berries. These are given as presents for newlyweds as a symbol of rich life (sorry I haven't got any photos, but if you are interested here's an example:

It is said that these “gardens” contain the idea of creating a perfect world, where “grapes are falling down”, in the middle “there flows a river” and in the trees “the birds are talking” (words from national songs). That’s why these straw “gardens" used to be a nice present – not only for decorating your home, but also for bringing you happiness.


6p00e00986feef8833 said...

Wow, these are intricate and ornate and just beautiful ! The straw garden is something I would want for my wedding, if ever I got married (fat chance :))
The Germans make straw stars, but flat ones. Two dimensions only.

Kristina said...

Thank You for Your comment, Julia. And never say "never" - if you really badly want to get married I'm sure you will. Just be careful with what you wish for :)

Germans have nice traditions and it's always very pretty around this time there.

Sea Angels said...

Yes Wow!!I love those pictures look at that ice it is simply breath taking...
and well the beautiful crafted decorations...hand made every time swings it for me, you can't beat it.
These are lovely and I so enjoyed reading about your beautiful traditions.
Have a very Happy Christmas
Hugs Lynn xxxx