This past week, Lithuania has been celebrating the Lithuanian Song and Dance Celebration. That means loads of concerts, festivals and fairs all across the country. In Vilnius, Tuesday’s Folklore Days was truly a time when Lithuanian folk arts and handicrafts could shine.
We’ve put together a quick guide for future travelers on the best souvenirs to pick up from your trip to the Baltic States.
1. Wickerwork Baskets
Baskets have always been a favorite item since the Neolithic Age. Baltic forests supplied an abundance of fir and pine trees, white and red willow trees. They are still a popular souvenir to pick up from the market, prized for their handmade designs and quality.
The most ubiquitous Baltic Souvenirs, wooden carvings are arguably most famous worldwide. You can find wooden spoons, decorative coasters and religious crafts whenever you go to the market.
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3. Amber Jewelry
Dubbed “Baltic Sea,” Amber is highly valued in the region, supplying 80% of the world’s stock. You can find specialized shops that work the amber into necklaces, bracelets, and various artwork. Amber lovers shouldn’t miss Riga’s Amber Room, a whole room decorated in amber and silver: amber rose ornaments, status, chandeliers, walls, etc.
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4. Margučiai eggs
A specialty of Lithuania, Margučiai Easter eggs are a centuries-old folk art. They symbolize rebirth, fertility, luck, and blessings, and are noteworthy for their individual patterns.
Pottery has been widespread throughout the Baltics for thousands of years, but it was only in the 10th-11th centuries when the potter’s wheel came into town. Regional Latvian and Lithuanian traditions exist all over the country today. The popular black ceramics are a popular method used in Latvia, an ancient process of smoking pottery to create a silvery glow. The region of Latgale is famous for its potter traditions.
Since the Iron Age, metal smithery have been a popular decorative feature. In recent years, metal jewelry has enjoyed a resurgence among locals and tourists. These ornate rings, necklaces and earrings are often crafted in patterns based on archaeological finds.
The earliest record of knitting dates back to 5-3,000 b.c.e. In the Baltic chilly winters, knit work became a necessary skill and fashionable from brightly patterned gloves to thick socks. These rich traditional patterns range from flowers to reindeers. Makes for a perfect gift!
Krupnikas is a honey liqueur from Lithuania. Legend has it that the Benedictine monks created Krupnikas in the 1500s… Polish and Lithuanian families traditionally celebrated holidays, weddings and gave as it as a gift. This beautiful drink is 40% alcohol – honey and spice and everything nice! Come have a taste, you won't be disappointed! ??? #honeyliqueur #krupnikas #liquor #lithuania #honeytas
Not everyone is a liqueur lover, but for those of our clients who are–the Baltics have your back with very distinct, one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Lithuania’s sweet liquor Krupnikas is made from clover honey and herbs. Legend has it that Benedictine monks living in Niasviz originally created the concoction. Another favorite is Trejos Devynerios, full of herbs and spices, and first mentioned over 1000 years ago. Look for the label reading 999. In Latvia, Balzams is a popular parting gift — this herbal beverage is reputedly good for its digestive properties. Mix with a splash of soda water and currant juice for an aperitif. In Tallinn, pick up Vana Tallinn for an afternoon with sweet rum and spices.
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WHERE TO BUY:
Jerulita’s guides can recommend more markets to pick up cool craft Baltic Souvenirs wherever you go. In Vilnius, Pilies Street has a number of small street stalls where you can pick up woolen socks, decorative wood coasters, and the like. Riga is home to a number of high-quality souvenir shops, like Stenders, Pinene, Art Nouveau Riga (for art/architecture afficinados). Stop by Sena Klets, for the handmade mittens, and the year-round craft market at Egle. In Tallinn, head to Viru street and look for the sign East Käsitöö.