Halloween Pumpkins Festival in Sveksna, Lithuania

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Halloween Pumpkins Festival in Sveksna, Lithuania  -  Photo credit: efoto.lt, Edition by Amber255 via Bitlanders.com

It's time for Halloween! Trick or Treat?!

Despite the fact that often Halloween is associated with a simple festive party for children, the presentation of certain magical rituals in motion pictures, for many years in the night from October 31 to November 1, the magic feast is taking place in Lithuanian too.

The eve of all All Saints' Day we are meeting in Sveksna city a few years already. The lurking monsters, ghosts, noises, and other Halloween attributes changed the light that spreads in the Park of Plater Palace. It spread from hundreds of carved pumpkin lanterns, which were scooped out by the local citizens and the guests of the town.

The jack-o-lantern follows me with tapered, glowing eyes.
His yellow teeth grin evily. His cackle I despise.
But I shall have the final laugh when Halloween is through.
This pumpkin king I’ll split in half to make a pie for two.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons

Credit: goodreads.com

The day before All Saints' Day and Halloween night, we enjoy the pumpkins festival "We are for the Light" in the Sveksna city. Visitors with the whole families come to look at the carved pumpkins. The festival starts a couple days before Halloween and ends in All Saints's Day, so everyone finds time to visit it. 

Pumpkins Festival in Sveksna, 2018 - Video credit: Marius Bendikas via Youtube

Sveksna City

Sveksna is a former border town of East Prussia and Great Lithuania. The urban structure, architecture, and buildings of the town are different from the towns of other Lithuanian regions. Today Sveksna is a unique place not only because it is surrounded by a rich and interesting past. It is fascinated by the wonderful nature, the architectural monuments, and the prominent people from here. The name of the count Plater is also associated with Sveksna.

I will not write about other famous places there but will concentrate about manor park where every year is going Halloween pumpkins festival

The park was founded in the 19th century. The largest adornment of the Sveksna manor park is the Chinese and Japanese ginkgo tree of about 18 meters in height and 70 cm in diameter. This is undoubtedly the largest and most spectacular pumpkins festival in Lithuania so far.

In the vast park, you will see not only the well-maintained landscape but also important cultural objects such as the solar clock, the sculpture of the ancient Roman goddess Diane, and the Genovaite Villa of the exceptionally beautiful style. Count Adam Broel Plater built his villa for his wife in 1880.

And that is the place where is going annual Halloween pumpkins festival attracting masses of people. 


Pumpkins Festival in a Sveksna Manor Park - Photo credit: Amber255 via Bitlanders.com

How Was Born the Annual Halloween Pumpkins Festival 

Ghostly Halloween for many in Lithuania is a hostile event. Although this is one of the most criticized holidays in Lithuania, it is becoming more and more popular among students and young people. So, while some people are angry that this strange celebration shakes the calmness and concentration of the All Saints' Day, others come up with something beautiful and unusual.

It's a cool idea. It is fascinating how many people bring their scooped, carved pumpkins, to watch their creative ideas, and talk to them about our customs. Rejoice and cheer up others with surprise.


Carved pumpkin lanterns - Photo credit: efoto.lt

This festival was the idea of a teacher of the Gymnasium Saule (sun).  The ghostly Halloween feast intersects with the All Saints' Day or as we call it - the day of dead ones, where no noise is acceptable, and peace and concentration are needed. Therefore, together with the students of Gymnasium, they took a somewhat unusual but interesting idea -  to scoop up the pumpkins and decorate the town for the coming Halloween. 

Halloween is a multiplex phenomenon of culture since there is the ritual of the All Saints' Day, Shrovetide, Harvest festivals. Americans lack their roots in culture, not knowing the ancestral cult, have made Halloween something like a commercial carnival. Some Pagan groups or Satanists try to name Halloween as their feast, but it is not from evil. 


Halloween in Lithuania - Photo credit: youtube.com

It originates from the Celtics - Druid New Year celebrations and prayers ritual of medieval Europeans. Therefore, it is not surprising that even today many churches organize Halloween celebrations or just pumpkins parties.

Each student scooped up a pumpkin. The idea was perfectly successful. They decorated the town with those pumpkins and citizens were surprised and grateful to the initiator and implementers of the idea. 

The next year, this pumpkins feast was moved to the manor park. People of all surrounding regions started visiting it, bringing own carved pumpkins with the candles inside and enjoy this beautiful view all day long, but especially at the dark time of the day. 


Pumpkins Festival in Sveksna  - lsdpklaipeda.lt 

I think that the Halloween celebration in Sveksna doesn't lead anymore to outrage or sharp debate do we need Halloween in our land. After a calm evening enjoying lights of pumpkins with calm hearts we gather at various cemeteries to light up the candles on the graves of passed away our loved ones.

To burn candles on the graves of the graves is a very beautiful and meaningful custom - a feast. After paying tribute to all dead, we return home more clean, more generous, more deeply aware of the meaning of being.

Pumpkin Festival - The Tribute To Halloween Feast 

This festival is going only a few years (in 20110 still but gained the popularity very fast. Each year, more and more people participate with their own carved pumpkins. if you come in the late evening, you will meet a mass of people, and they not only enjoy,  make photos of lighted pumpkins, but also have some snacks which are prepared right there, visit the exhibition with last years' pumpkins festival photos, and buy small souvenirs inside the manor. 

The event united the entire community of Sveksna, and every family, every home is growing pumpkins there. Despite the fact that this year was not very fertile for the pumpkins, the festival of pumpkins' lights was again unexpectedly popular. From the very first morning of the festival, the town was buzzing: citizens and carried on the pumpkins to the Manor park in all the ways: on the hands, cars, bicycles, carriages. The guests of the town also carried the pumpkins to the park. 

The pumpkins carved in all the shapes and forms, decorated with mustaches, laces, beads, autumnal goodness, delicate flowers, written, painted - such pumpkin lanterns were carved from the early morning. 


Halloween in Lithuania - Photo credit: Amber255 via Bitlanders.com

The Light Changed the Noise of Halloween

I already mentioned that Halloween is accepted only by people of the younger generation in Lithuania. The older people more value old customs to pay tribute to the dead loved ones. But both old and young people accept the Halloween pumpkins' lights festival. 

My grandmother sais it is not our tradition, it's stranger custom to us to celebrate Halloween, that's the feast of evil, but when we took her to the pumpkins lights' festival, she was surprised and enjoyed every pumpkin there even if this tradition came to us from the US.

I think we already accustomed to the Halloween invasion and will not escape from it even if some Lithuanians value this feast ambiguously, but we can take what is most beautiful in it. Some stranger customs look too horrifying, with too much blood and atrocities, but we easy took for ourselves the beauty and light of Halloween traditions. Everyone brings his pumpkin with a smile, thus contributing to the commonly created light.


Pumpkins festival in Sveksna manor park -  Photo credit: Amber255 via Bitlanders.com

Carved pumpkins, called Jack O’ Lanterns, are not too alien to our culture. The custom to make lanterns of pumpkins is likely to come from Irish folklore. Pumpkin is everything that is taken from the sun: light, color.

The lanterns lighted the shore of the pond, they found the place between the trees, on the paths, swing, the stones, and even on the Diana sculpture standing on the island. The night vision was supplemented by the mysterious atmosphere created by the music that covered the park.

After the celebration, the park did not become a pumpkins' dump - some of the lanterns were taken by their authors, and the remaining scoops people brought to the forest and left it as beasts feed. The remaining candles are used to lit on the abandoned graves on the All Saints' Day.

The Food of Pumpkins

Both local and arriving enthusiasts came up with not only one original way to feed the hungry and thirsty spectators. Pumpkin pancakes were attracting from afar with delicious smells. The pancakes were given with jam from apples, pomegranates boiled with pumpkin. A gourmet drink was poured from giant pumpkin pots. People could try hot pumpkins soup, buy deliciously baked cupcakes with pumpkin filling, and all kinds of pumpkin Bruschetta. All the food was made with pumpkins. No one was left hungry there. 

There was a lottery where you were able to win some souvenirs with Halloween attributions snacks. 


Pumpkin festival - Photo credit: youtube.com

The Pumpkin Festival of 2018

This year, Sveksna again became the pumpkin's capital - the pumpkins were carved in various sizes, colors, and shapes. They all found a place in the Count Pleater's Park again. For the seventh time the light and music festival "We are for the light, 2018" attracted not only the local citizens' community but also people from the distant places of Lithuania.

Although like every year, most of the pumpkins which decorated the park are the works of Sveksna community members, people from all over Lithuania brought their artworks too.


Halloween Pumpkins Festival in Sveksna, Lithuania  -  Photo credit: youtube.com

One of the most interesting of these year's accents is a century's tree with a height of 12 meters, on which hangs a hundred pumpkins ( a hint to 100 years of Lithuania's independence).

The event attracts a lot of people every year. Just last year, about 10 thousand visited the event, which lasted two days. People are expected even more this year as the event reaches new records every year.

This year the organizers decided to return to the concept of the old event - they refused to arrange a concert. People are invited to take a walk in the park with calm music - so they wanted to encourage the concentration of people before the All  Saints' Day. 

Pumpkins Festival in Sveksna, 2018 - Video credit: Love Klaipeda via Youtube.com

Every year, there are high-quality carved pumpkins that can even be called works of art. Although the most beautiful pumpkin contest was held earlier, this time the contest's initiative was abandoned. There are many dissatisfied people remaining in the process of preparing such beauty contests.

For the celebration, the relief of the park is even more significant. If the pumpkins were lighted in the plain, there would not be such a good image.

On The Final Note

The biggest challenge that the festival and participants are facing is the poor weather. It's not so important whether the pumpkins' harvest is less or bigger, most importantly, people should not walk in the mud. Of course, as it is said, there is no bad weather. There are only bad clothes.

Today is the night of Halloween. Thousand of people will dress in various personages, frightening, bloody like from the evil and will go to celebrate by local customs. I know, people in Lithuania will celebrate also. may not all, but many of us will surely do. And after midnight, the photos of celebration will start flooding Facebook and Instagram. So, let's have fun. 


Halloween in Lithuania  -  Photo credit: youtube.com

So, if at night you hear a knock on the door accompanied by a mysterious and horrendous whisper: trick or treat, do not be frightened - you probably dreamed of a Halloween dream or your neighbor has decided to make fun with you. Everything can happen - it's a night of Halloween.

It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare. – Brackett, Halloween (1978)

Credit: realsimple.com



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You can check my other blogs about Halloween: 

1. The Halloween Origin, Its Traditions in Lithuania Now And In The Past

2. Some Horror Films To Watch On Halloween Night

3. Horror Movie HALLOWEEN Review - we waited for it 40 years 


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