How to tell it's spring in Lithuania

  • 2001-06-07
  • Ann Pellagrini
Like most places with changing seasons, Lithuania has some very distinct characteristics to tell you when a new season has truly arrived. They appear in the people as well as the landscape. They begin very subtly, then suddenly everything changes dramatically.

One tell-tale sign that a season is changing can be seen in the amount of clothing a woman is wearing. I will qualify this by saying that, yes, women and girls in the Baltic states do wear micro-miniskirts and sheer blouses in winter and, yes, they do scamper across the snow in high-heeled shoes and boots. But it's the lack of heavy or fur coats and the dramatic color changes that let you know it's spring.

The unofficial Lithuanian national color is black. The more the better. In winter, it's like New York City in mourning. I wear a lot of black myself, but I think Lithuanians wear so much black a) because they think it's stylish, and b) because it's all that's available in the shops.

From head to toe, people are dressed in black, which makes the gray winter days seem even more depressing. But when you see people wearing colors, especially bright or very light colors, you know that (regardless of what the temperature is outside) spring has arrived.

A second signal that the bright seasons have come is women's hair color. Lithuanian women change their hair color a lot compared to American women. They also choose colors that can only be found deep in tropical forests. In the spring, however, the colors seem to get brighter and the hair styles seem to change - or maybe it's just being able to see people's hair after seeing hats for so long.

A third dead giveaway that spring has arrived in Lithuania appears on people's faces. It appears first on the lips and spreads across the face faster than acne on a pubescent child. It's called a smile, and when many people are wearing them you know that spring is here. At no other time of the year do so many people wear them, as smiling is looked down upon as being silly.

You can't imagine how beautiful it is to see people smiling, and even laughing out loud, wearing bright colors and showing off the three or four colors in their hair.

Within a few days Lithuania bursts forth with greenery. Trees everywhere are blossoming, grass is growing at an accelerated rate, and flowers are pushing themselves out of the ground as if they are racing to the sun. This new life seems to take hold with a grip stronger than a hungry newborn and it demands everyone's attention.

Waking up to the morning sun and looking out into a rainbow of colors make the mornings a wonderful part of the day.

Look to the forests for a purple carpet to emerge. Violets burst forth and cover the ground in a deep purple hue. If you get distracted or forget to take a stroll in the forest you may be disappointed; you will have missed this yearly spectacular, which disappears as quickly and quietly as it arrives.

Look to the fields and you will see the grass that has replaced the brown earth. The lush greens of Lithuania rival any field in Ireland in its many shades.

For a very short time, a bright yellow sea of dandelions covers the lush green grass. In a short time the dandelions fade to white and their "fairies" begin flying through the air in all directions.When nature and people are so bright and full of life, you don't need a forecaster or a newspaper to tell you the warm seasons have arrived in Lithuania.