Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Baltic Christmas Day 19 - High on Christmas

Day 19 of 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas is brought to you by Viktorija. Originally from Lithuania, Viktorija has lived in Denmark & New Zealand, but now lives in Rīga with her Latvian husband. Please welcome Viktorija with her thoughts on the Lithuanian poppy and hemp seed tradition!

Christmas on Cannabis or High on Christmas?

Lithuanians are weird. Besides being a small country that people can barely find on a map (have you ever experienced those awkward stares and assumptions that are way off base?), there is also the connection between poppies and cannabis. Although this association might not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking of the country, I promise that all Lithuanians have some exposure to the two.

Historians and those researching ancient Lithuania claim that the country has always been known for the courage of its people, and old, lively traditions. Whereas some people claim that courage and traditions do not go hand in hand, you might be surprised on hearing another take on that; what if you learned that some lovely substances (which might have an intoxicating effect) might have been involved? Historians disagree on this point as there is no significant evidence on the usage of said substances, however most Lithuanians still eagerly consume them during one of the holiest events throughout the year, Christmas.

Whereas the rest of the world can be quick to pass judgement on hearing being “high on Christmas”, but let me stop you there and tell the archaic story of One Lithuanian Daredevil Fighter who invented a peaceful tradition… eh, whom am I kidding, guys. Long story short – Lithuanians are creative people who know how to make themselves joyous with the help of tiny black seeds that take all sorts of shapes and forms during the month of December.

Roasted Cannabis seed

During the holy evening of Christmas Eve no one in Lithuania will think less of you for consuming considerable amounts of boiled potatoes with roasted hemp seeds. Therefore it's important to ensure that this year's Christmas follows in the old Lithuanian tradition - all you will need is a pack of hemp seeds and some boiled potatoes (folks from abroad who don't officially get it in shops, please don't ask me where to get it!).

Once the potatoes are boiled and soft, prepare your cannabis garnish: in a hot pan (no oil!) roast a handful of hemp seeds for 2-3 minutes til the room starts smelling warm and peaceful... Those, who have already had a chance to try this national heritage dish claim that it is stunning due to its pleasant, simple taste.

Liquid Cannabis

Besides containing a generous amount of vitamins E and D, people claim that cannabis prevents depression (surprise surprise!). So to wipe away all the negative thoughts that you might be having, try consuming cannabis in its liquid form by making some cannabis seed milk.

To produce the liquid medicine that keeps the gloomy winter depression away you will need around 7-8 spoonfuls of unhulled hemp seeds, 1 liter of water, 2 spoons of Agave nectar (maple syrup is ok too) and a pinch of vanilla sugar. Soak the seeds in cold water overnight, strain them, and blend with the rest of ingredients until a rich white. Rinse the leftovers of the seeds and enjoy. After all, when considering the positive aspects of cannabis, one must remember that it has amazing medical characteristics, right?

Roasted Poppies

It was thought that the poppy is a kind of an intermediary between a living man and the sky, and by consuming it the living man has an opportunity to connect with the spirits (hmmm...). So all kinds of poppies - fresh, roasted, ground & soaked - were consumed back then, and still are today. I will not dig deeper trying to find some further historical information on the usage of poppies as an intermediary between man and sky, but will mention the current situation; possibly heavy consumption was the main reason why growing poppies is controlled in Lithuania today.

A mainstay of Lithuanian Christmas Eve (kūčios) is the Christmas Eve cookie, or “little poppy breads,"  kūčiukai. For the process of making kūčiukai you will need: 500gr flour, 200ml water, 15gr fresh yeast, around 50gr of poppies, 50gr sugar, 2-3 spoons of oil and a pinch of salt. The process is quite straightforward; mash yeast with the sugar, warm the water and pour the yeast/sugar mixture along with ½ of the flour into a bowl. Mix well and set aside to rise. Once the dough has nearly doubled in size mix in the leftover flour and add the rest of the ingredients. Let rest until the dough has doubled a second time. Finally form a long "sausage", cut into small squares, and bake for about 6 minutes at 180°C until the pieces become golden brown.

(Editors note: for more on kūčiukai, please see A Baltic Christmas Day 22 - Lithuanian Christmas Eve Biscuits | Kūčiukai)

Liquid Poppies

Poppy milk is thought to be the legacy of spirits. And as if that weren’t enough, Lithuanians tend to consume this precious liquid legacy along with the Christmas Eve cookies (kūčiukai, see above). Double the power, double the fun they say.

To make some poppy milk soak a cup of poppies in boiling water and let them sit overnight. The next day drain the seeds, add around 2 liters of cold water, and blend until smooth, adding a spoonful of honey or another sweetener of your choice. Strain out the remaining poppies and enjoy together with the Christmas Eve cookies, or alone.

You might feel slightly uncomfortable about the consumption of cannabis seeds and/or poppies, and might question the historical aspect of consumption. I agree that this is a grey area that no one talks (too loudly) about, but one thing is for sure; all four ingredients might have some effect. Lithuanian Christmas folklore talks of hearing animals speak on Christmas Eve… well, I’ll let you draw your own conclusion.


Thank you Viktorija! Latvians also have hemp and poppy seed foodstuffs, including but not limited to hempseed butter and poppy seed buns (magoņmaizītes), but I don’t know that there is the same link with the holidays… It’s always interesting to consider the roots of such traditions!

Viktorija is a Lithuanian with a global mindset (has worked in Lithuania, Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand and Latvia). She is a copywriter and PR specialist, a foodie and traveler; connect with her hereTo read more about Viktorija’s story, please visit Life in Riga for Moving to Latvia: Viktorija’s story.

We’re happy you joined us in what is the final week of the series, and hope you’ll return tomorrow on Day 20 for more on Latvian mittens!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...