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Stork - Gandras

March 25 is “Stork Day” (Gandrinės)

On March 25, Lithuanians celebrate the return of storks, the national bird of Lithuania. It is said that it brings with it the wagtail (kielė), which kicks away the last ice of the season.

In the olden days, the stork’s return was associated with various portents and prophecies. If there is no frost on this day, spring will come early, but if there is – there will be 25 more frosty mornings. If the wind blows from the north, not surprisingly – cold will persist; if it comes from the west, there will be rain…

Lithuanians of old engaged in much superstitious behaviour to ensure the success of their crops, including enticing storks to nest on their property. Storks were considered a blessing, bringing good luck and health. In Lithuania Minor, on March 25 homeowners would hoist a nest onto a post or rooftop to attract storks, and place a silver coin in it to tempt them to stay.

In northeastern Lithuania there were special buns baked on Stork Day. In some areas, it was bad luck to build fences on this day, or bring branch cuttings into the house. In others – it was an occasion to celebrate with food and drink. In general, it seems that for many, this day marked the true beginning of spring.