Culture and Arts Lithuania

Culture and Arts Lithuania

Unlike the other Baltic countries, Lithuania displays good demographic cohesion : 84% of its population is of Lithuanian culture and language - and this proportion has steadily increased since the return to independence. This specificity is largely due to the lower development of industry during the Soviet era, which prevented a massive influx of workers from the Union.

The country now has 2 significant minorities: the Polonais, established for a long time, when Lithuania and Poland were one (about 6,5% of the population), and Russian speakers (around 6%), many of whom left after 1991.

Around 1930, the Poles represented 70% of the population of Vilnius! Let us add to this a few important minorities with regard to history but today very small in number.

On the other hand, the country has lost millions of inhabitants in 10 years.

The Jews

Installed Gediminas, Lithuanian Jews, called litvaks, formed a thriving, culturally very active community. In the past, people came from all over the Ashkenazi diaspora to study in the yeshivas of Vilnius. There were even more than 100 synagogues in the capital, nicknamed "the Jerusalem of the North" ... By 1900, 40% of the city's population was Jewish.

Deported and executed en masse under the Nazi occupation, less than 10% of the litvaks escaped the Holocaust - making Lithuania the most battered country in Europe from this point of view. The survivors found little comfort under the Soviet regime.

The Jewish population in Lithuania today numbers barely a few thousand souls.

The Karais

Hey! Of Mesopotamian origin and Jewish culture, the Caraïtes formed a sect in the XNUMXth century, rejecting oral tradition in favor of written tradition - a creed which made them nickname “Jewish Protestants”. A large community was established in Crimea in the XNUMXth century.

In 1397, Grand Duke Vytautas, who had just subdued the region, hired them to form his personal guard. A Caraïte community formed around Trakai Castle in Lithuania - where it remains today, retaining its original Turkish language.

We can see the kenessa (a kind of synagogue) and a museum dedicated to caraism and its history.

The smallest ethnic group in Lithuania : the Karais are only 200 in the country and only about sixty in Vilnius!

The Tatars

Installed and ended up being assimilated in exchange for their military services.

Their tongue is gone, but they are managed to keep some traditions and, above all, their Muslim religion.

Today, their number is estimated at just over 5 people. Since 000, a mufti watches again over these souls of Islam drowned in an ocean of Catholicism.

The Samogites

Difficult to make of the Samogites a minority of the Duke and the appetite for conquest of the Teutonic knights.

Finally assimilated to Lithuania in 1413, they nevertheless retained their particularisms : the last people of Europe to be Christianized (the pagan religion continued in the XNUMXth century!), they also refused to submit to serfdom. Later, they were still at the forefront of identity struggles.

Today, the Samogites do not really stand out from the rest of the population.

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