Lithuanian Ethnoastronomy

6. The Influence of the Sun onto the Cattle, the Plants and the People

The sun is considered the provider of life and therefore called endearingly - mother ‘‘motule, močiute, motinële’‘. It was believed that the cattle should be slaughtered before the sunrise, because otherwise the cattle show signs of vitality they twitch (Balys 1951b, 7) cf: ‘‘the cattle at the sunrise live long, the Sun brings the life (Gradlauskas, Đvenčionys region, 1992). Sick people were awakened at the sunset and it was believed that: ’‘If the sick person did not die when the Sun was setting he/she may live till the morning (Maţiulis 1937, 135-136). It was not allowed to go to bed before the sunset because it was believed that it will cause night-blindness (‘‘viđtalaktis’‘, ‘‘viđtakis’‘, ‘‘viđtaklis’‘) and you will not see anything after the sunset (Balys 1951, 7):’‘ Before the Sun sets it is not right to go to sleep , you will get a night blindness, the eyes will be dazzled (Ţakauskas, Lazdijai region, 1992). Lithuanians living in Gervëčiai area in Byelorussia believe that night blindness could be got if you go to sleep before the sunset in the spring, when the snow is melting and the water is streaming (LTR 4235/48/94).

The effect of the Sun on the plants and vegetation depends on the position of the Sun in relation to the horizon, the time of the day. For instance, it is believed that:

- in the early morning: sown rye will grow beautiful and yellow;
- in the afternoon: the rye will be poor (Dundulienë 1991, 146, 150).


- in the evening , after the sunset the sparrows do not attack the wheat and the hemp and the wheat grows full, the flax contracts no disease (Dundulienë 1991, 152, 157).
- wheat sown in the dark of the night is full and is not destroyed by hail or rain (Dundulienë 1991, 148, 150).

It was a common practice to sow when the Sun and the Moon were not shining to protect the field from the parasites and grow full crop. In sowing and planting the phases of the Moon where agreed with the position of the Sun (the time of the day), for instance: ‘‘Potatoes are planted when the Moon is almost full and many clouds in the sky, the sky is uneven and before lunch till twelve’‘.

In the opinion of some Gervëčiai inhabitants, babies born in the evening die and babies born in the morning grow (i.e. live). It is believed that babies born in the daytime are happier. In the Lithuanian mythology it is widely recorded that the mother may change the baby’s fate by stopping breast feeding it and later resuming feeding. The child will later have very bad eyes and is called ‘‘atţindas’‘. Usually it was believed that atţindas is the child who was not breast-fed for a while, but in Lithuania Minor it was believed that a baby who is not breast-fed for a day and a half will have poor eyes and will turn into the fighter of the spirits' (Patackas, Ţarskus 1990, 77-80). In Lithuania Minor there was recorded another important option that atţindas may become a child whose mother leaves a baby alone and does not return before the sunset and then later gives him the breast to feed (Balys 1937, 17).