Lithuanian Ethnoastronomy

3. Sunrise and Sunset

The sunrise and the sunset were held important moments of the turn of the time. Then the diseases were cured through incantations and it was believed that the water begets curative qualities at the sunrise. The healer would heal the erysipelas or the snakebite by looking into the setting Sun (Puodžiukienė, Stankevičienė, Ignalina region, 1992).

After the sunset it was forbidden to laundry because it was the time when the fairies or the witches laundry, nor to build a house, because the cockroaches and the bugs will befell it; to carry or to spill sweepings, because by this you spoil (užliesi) the eyes of your dead relatives (Vaiškūnas 1990), nor to work in the garden because the moles will make the holes in the soil (Vaiškūnas 1995; Bajarskienė, Pakruojas region, 1994); nor are you allowed to take from the barn the corn or flour, because you will run out of them quickly; no slicing a new bread loaf , because it spoils the bread (Balys 1951, 7); no bathing , because the fairies go bathing (Karalienė, Panevežys region 1996) or else the ‘‘spirits of the drowned walk in the waters’‘ (Balys 1951, 7). It was generally believed that after the sunset the fairies and witches make their appearance. They can take even a child left outside (Martinaitienė, Pakruojas region, 1994; Rastenis, Ignalina region, 1988). In the evening it was not recommended to let the hen hatch because it was believed that the chicken might be blinded (Vaiškūnas 1995). After the sunset the time of the spirits comes and it is not allowed to work at that period. In Saugai area (Šilutė region) there was a saying: ‘‘Here comes the holly evening here comes the period of no work’‘ (Vaiškūnas 1995). About those who continued to work after the sunset it was remarked that hey do not work for the joy of God nor for their own enjoyment but only for the sake of the devil. Therefore for the person working at this time of the day nobody would wish ‘‘Padėk Dieve’‘ (May God help you) (Balys 1951, 7; Vaiškūnas 1990). Before the sunrise all the spirits hide away because they are afraid of the rays of the Sun (Balys 1951,7).

In Saugai people would talk about the position of the Sun at night in the following phrases: it ‘‘nueina’‘ (goes), ‘‘nuskęst’‘ ‘‘drowns’‘, ‘‘įlend’‘ (crawls inside), ‘‘leidžiasi’‘ (goes down), ‘‘dingsta’‘ disappears into the sea. It was admitted that it goes to sleep in the evening and in the morning rises again (Vaiškūnas 1995), it bathes and rests (Balys 1951,7). Sometimes it is said that the Sun sets in America; ‘‘nusileido kiton žemėn, Amerikon’‘ (set in the other land, in America) (Lukaševičienė, Lazdijai region, 1992; Vaiškūnas 1995). Others believe that the Sunsets under the mountain, behind the mountain or goes into the ground, under ground (Vaiškūnas 1995; Balys 1951, 7). Belief that the Sun and other heavenly bodies hide behind the mountain is considered very archaic and could be associated with the imagery of the cosmic mountain (world mountain); ’‘About the sunrise the old folk used to say; ‘‘the Sun went behind the mountain and hid itself and in the morning again came from behind the mountain.’‘ (Okulavičienė, Šalčininkai region, 1996); ‘‘In the far land that is to the West from us there stands a very big mountain and on the e top of the mountain there is a huge hole, - in the evening the Sun goes there to rest and that is why we cannot see it’‘ (Vilkaviškis) (Balys 1951, 7).

Some remaining shepherds songs show that in the olden times it was believed that the Sun drives through the sky in a carriage, it was asked to rise sooner or come through the clouds faster, e.g.:

‘‘The Cloud please stop In your heavely wheels
Come forward Sun '
In your light wheels’‘ (Lukoševičius, Ignalina region, 1992).