[ a.k.a. Kûèios ir Kalëdos ] 

Ancient historical sources confirm the main moments of the winter holiday, the return of the sun, which are found in the 20th century Lithuanian beliefs and traditions.
Supper on Christmas Eve " Kûèios", the oldest Lithuanian feast, celebrated according to the sun's calendar. It is a night holiday, whose festivities begin in the evening. This is not only the most archaic, but the best preserved of holidays. Intimate family celebration, in closed micro social environment, protected " Kûèios" from many 20th century modern innovations. The pagan spirit of Lithuanian "Kûèios" did not confront with Christian humanistic philosophy. 
"Kûèios" is the ritual supper. The entire December 24th day , Christmas eve is called "Kûèios". Linguist K.Buga believes that Lithuanian ancestors borrowed the word "Kûèios", way back in the 12th century through Slavs from the Greeks. This shows up in words with the same meaning – Russian " kutja", White Russian " kucia", Greek " kukkia". 
"Kûèia" is a special dish assigned to the souls of dead ancestors. It is made of stewed wheat, peas, beans, sweetened with honey or eaten with poppy seed milk. In the region of Merkinë, "Kûèia" was a special loaf of bread, called the "Kûèia loaf ", it was carried three times around the house by the master of the house, dressed in holiday clothes. He then knocked on the door, when asked who's knocking, he would answer, " God together with "Kûèia" asks to be in your house". Upon entering, the master placed the bread on the table. In the region of Kaiðiadorys, the master of the house carried a basket filled with "Kûèia" supper foods three times around the house. In other regions, the Christmas wafers were carried in the same manner. 
The ritual supper is not eaten until the evening star appears in the sky. Until then, the bathhouse is heated, people bathe and dress up in festive clothes. The floor was strewn with juniper by the mistress and the master placed handfuls of hay on the table, covered it with a white linen tablecloth. In many regions, a basket filled with hay, sheaves of grain and a horse's collar was placed under the table. Foods were placed on the table and as many tablespoons as there were eaters. If the number of family members was an odd number, a beggar or a lone neighbor was invited. If during that year there had been a death in the family, an upside down spoon was set in that place. This being a family feast, not only live but also dead members participate in it. The eldest family member went outside to invite the souls of the ancestors, the cold, the wind and bees to eat together.
The tradition of feeding the souls of the dead, remain in the 20th century in many parts of Lithuania. In the region of Ukmergë, a glass of beer or kvass was set in the place where the dead member used to sit. Around Kupiðkis after the meal the table was cleaned away and set afresh with meat dishes, so that the souls of the dead would eat well. In Eastern Prussia a goose was placed on the table in honor of the souls of the dead. In other regions food remains were placed on windowsills or in vestibules. This food was for the souls who did not die at home. 
Most often the "Kûèia" table was not cleared away, for it was believed that when the family is asleep the souls of the dead come in to eat.
Christmas biscuits [ a.k.a. kûèiukai ], are among ritual foods together with barley porridge, both eaten with poppy seed milk. A must dish is oat pudding, which was given to the souls of the dead, wind and cold. Spells were cast in order to prepare a good oat pudding. In Suvalkija, while preparing the oat pudding, coatless and barefoot children ran around the house reciting: 
" pud, pud, pudding
Mathew will ride home
On a dapple grey horse
With a long snivel ".
Ancient "Kûèia" supper dishes are beet soup with mushrooms, and fish. Twelve different dishes were prepared, this tradition still continues. All dishes are meatless, with no fat, eggs and dairy products. Today's "Kûèia" supper is begun with the passing around of the Christmas wafer together with wishes for each member.
Lithuanian "Kûèia" traditions have much room for concern about upcoming grain harvest. At the end of the meal it is tradition to pull a piece of hay from under the tablecloth. If one pulls the longest piece, the linen will grow best. Near Punsk, on Christmas Eve night, three piles of grain, rye, barley and oats were set on the floor and a hen was let in. if the hen first picked rye, it meant a good year for bread, if oats, their crop will be abundant and if barley, there will be tasty pancakes. Some people covered the garden with pots to assure growth of large vegetables. 
Trying to increase fruit tree production, the fruit trees were wrapped with straw on Christmas Eve. In some regions cooked peas were sprinkled in the orchard to increase the fruit crops.
On Christmas Eve a greater attention was given to animals, their health, fertility and assure cattle breeding success:

  1. hay from the supper was later fed to the animals
  2. If one sewed on Christmas Eve, sheep will bear motley lambs
  3. To assure that animals do not scatter in the summer, the entire family must eat Kûèia, the Christmas Eve supper, together
  4. To keep the animal herd together in summer, tie up the cutlery after supper with the whip, broom and shepherd
  5. No need to lock barn doors on this night, place a cross or another sign on the doors so that charmings are ineffective.
  6. Those who sprinkle a mixture of wheat and peas in the barn, will have good animals
  7. After supper the mistress of the house should take all milk pots outside and place all around the farmstead so that next year the cows would give much milk.
  8. After supper the mistress of the house takes the butter churn and walks around the fields churning it, so that there will be an abundance of butter.
  9. No spinning should be done on this day because it will cause calf abortions and animals will slobber.
  10. After milking the cow should be poured with milk three times so that the witches do not drain the cow on the feast day of Saint John.
  11. On this day stroke the cows, so that they will be fat and have no pustules.
  12. Several Christmas wafers are saved and fed to cows, to keep milk from spoiling.
  13. If you want your horses to be good looking, steal manure from your neighbor and feed it to your horses.
  14. So that no one bewitches the horses, the master of the house feeds them ears of rye.
  15. Sheep should be sheared on this day so that new born lambs have curly fleece.
  16. To keep wolves from carrying away animals, mention wolves while eating.
  17. Carry a sieve around the fields to prevent the killing of colts by wolves.
  18. Wash windows, door handles and all the corners of the house, give this wash water to drink to the animals. This will keep evil eyes away from the animals.

Christmas Eve charmings and magic was done to better beekeeping. The beekeeper would take honey and bees to his poor neighbors. So that bees would not swarm on Christmas Eve night, the beekeeper took the first harvest grain sheaf around the orchard. Also placed a Christmas wafer into beehives. All throughout Lithuania until this day there is belief that at midnight on Christmas Eve day animals speak. Exactly at midnight, animals rise, kneel on front legs and pray in human voices. Their spoken words are not heard by everyone. The animal voices are heard by those who are poverty stricken and who are spending the night in the barn. The animals speak most often about their owner's funeral.
On Christmas Eve, just like during other calendar feasts, much attention is paid to wedding themes.
There are several rare marriage charms:
1 – The windows are covered after supper, a rooster and hen are pulled out from under the stove, their tails are tied together. If the rooster pulls the hen to the door, there will be a wedding and if he pulls the hen back under the stove, there will be no wedding.
2 – Three items are placed on the doorsill, a ring, a piece of chalk and a piece of bread. A hen is brought out. If the hen picks up the ring, the girl will marry. If the hen picks up the piece of chalk, the girl will die. The girl will live poorly if the hen picks up the bread.
3 – A pot of water is brought to a boil, then two pieces of coal are dropped into the water. If the coals come together, there will be a wedding.
4 – Every girl in the room lights a candle. All the candles are placed on the table's edge and blown out. The girl whose candle is not blown out, will remain unmarried.
5 – A ring is dropped into a half filled glass of water. The number of ripples shows the number of years before her wedding.
6 – At midnight girls place two sacred candles and between them a glass filled with water, birch ashes and drop a wedding band inside. Looking through the glass they either see their chosen male or a coffin.
7 – Three whole herring, without bread should be eaten before going to bed. A towel should be placed on two wooden rods, set over a bowl filled with water. They must dream of their future male while sleeping.
8 – Quietly tie up even knots, putting into each one money, a piece of coal, a lump of earth, a piece of clay from the stove, grain or seeds, a small rag. All these knotted pieces are placed in a tub, next to the girl's bed, so that they can be touched without leaving the bed. The meanings of the different knots are: ring – wedding, money – richess, coal – fire, earth- death, rag – children, seeds, grain – good harvest.
9 – That night, two needles are dropped into a plate filled with water. If the needles come together, there will be a wedding.

The mirror, invented in the third millenium before Christ, reached Lithuania in the 13th century. Its mysteriousness is linked with the world of the dead, it became part of Christmas Eve enchantings, guessing the future, especially that of marriage. Young men and women, wishing to find out who will be their mate, when casting lots take two candles, a towel and a mirror to an uninhabited house. The candles are lit and placed near the mirror. Wiping moisture from the mirror with the towel, they would see their future mate. Worthy of attention in magic rituals' execution is total nudity. After supper, the girl should climb up into the attic, undress and walk three times around the chimney, then in total darkness she will see the young man she will marry. It is said that one should run to the bathhouse, undress and stand totally naked on the doorstep, bend to look into the stove's opening – there she'll see her future husband. Total belief belongs to magic spiritual rituals, when the girl takes her hair and burns them while speaking the name of her supposed male. If that man lives near by, then he comes around the same night. If he lives farther away, he comes in the morning, and asks who was calling him. The future mate can be seen after collecting crumbs from all Christmas Eve supper foods and burning them in the entry way in a fire lit with remaining Advent splinters. A man's facial features can be seen in the rising smoke.

Christians began celebrating Christ's birth on December 25th , according to the civilian Roman calendar. Ethnographers maintain that Christmas is an ancestral holiday. It is sun and nature Gods' birthday. Lithuanian Christmas rites have much in common with the rites of other Indo European nations. 
On Christmas morning, the Christmas Eve supper table was cleared away and checked to see if souls of the dead left any signs of having been at the table. 
Pork or wild boar meats were ancient traditional Christmas foods. Later written sources mention ritual pork meat dishes eaten during spring festivals and the start of agrarian labors. Tradition of slaughtering pigs before Christmas was widespread throughout Lithuania. Pig's head, decorated with greenery, was the main Christmas dish. In Samogitia the traditional ritual food is hodgepodge with pig's tail sticking out of the serving dish. This was prepared by that member of the family who stayed home to look after the property while other members attended midnight mass. 
At the beginning of 19th century, authors J.Pabrëþa and S.Daukantas wrote that on Christmas day groups of men, singing ancient hymns and beating wooden folk instruments, dragged about a yule log [ a.k.a. blukas ] from house to house, while greeting the owners and wishing them a Happy New Year. These men were graciously treated to Christmas goodies. Then the yule log was dragged out of the village and set on fire.
Christmas merry making usually began on the second day of Christmas or on the eve of the first day of Christmas and continued until Epiphany, the feast of the Three Kings. Youth groups called alms collectors, darlings, gypsies or by other names, walked through villages under the pretext of wishing good harvests while greeting all homeowners. They received gifts for their greetings. Each group's leader had the duty to request permission to enter homes only when invited. P.Dundulienë
Writes that in the region of Tauragë, the youth group was made of twelve young men, dressed in red trousers, wearing jackets back to front, with hats, bells and whips in hands. Before entering houses they would chase evil spirits in the villages and behaved uproariously. When an invitation was given to enter the house, they sang and wished good harvest. In the Highlands, the youth group was collected by Santa Claus, saying to each of them, " I will lead the lambs". Each youth clung to Santa's coat and soon a flock of lambs was collected. Santa was a popular Christmas wanderer, dressed in an inside out fur coat, humpbacked, carrying a crooked cane and a bag to hold gifts. Santa knocked on doors with his cane. When asked who is knocking, he would answer, "this is Santa, I came from the other land, where there are hills of flour, rivers of honey, lakes of beer, rains in candy, snows in bagels. I carry a bag filled with luck, harvest and other goodies. Please open the door and don't chase me away to the other land". Once inside the house, Santa gave nuts to the children, sang and danced with them. In the region of Vilnius, on the first day of Christmas, children walked near windows bleating like lambs. The owner of the house, under whose windows they bleated knew immediately that the coming year would be very lucky and was generous in gift giving to those children. 
In seacoast villages, Santa was replaced by a night watchman who walked near every house, singing Christmas hymns and wishing success to everyone. He was awarded delicious foods for all his doings. 
In the region of Šilalë young people visited to express Christmas greetings to each other. They sang beautifully and once inside were invited to eat potato sausages, potato cakes, drink beer and sing and dance.
On the second day of Christmas, the feast of St.Stephen, the first Catholic martyr, oats were taken to church to be blessed. It was also the last day of work for the hired hands, who were paid in grain, especially oats. They would donate part of their grain to church so that God would bless them and their earnings. In some regions at the beginning of this century, the mistress of the house greeted new hired hands with blessed oats, while the master of the house sprinkled their heads with blessed oats, with the wish that everything would be well. 
At the end of 19th century, in villages throughout Lithuania, Christmas celebrations lasted three and four days under the pretext that ice would not destroy the grain fields. During the time between Christmas and Epiphany certain works were allowed while others were not. Almost no work was done after sunset and on holiday evenings: no spinning and no grinding. Only feather tearing could be done.
These traditions continued until Christian times. It was written in the Jesuit Chronicles, " these pagans still celebrate twelve day evenings after Christmas, they do no work but continue their holy rest. They use that rest to ask God for health for their sheep. They believe that without rest the new born lambs will have no head or legs. It is almost impossible to change their behavior and beliefs".