Lithuania is located in northeastern Europe, the most southern of the Baltic Republics. According to Susan Auerbach’s Encyclopedia of Multiculturalism, Lithuania measures 34,000 square miles with neighboring countries such as Latvia, Belarus, Russia, and Poland (1073). This paper will seek to describe Lithuanian’s lifestyles, religion, politics and government, and its citzens’ immigration to the United States.
There were two waves of Lithuanian immigrants that came to the United States. The first wave was seen in the United States in the late 1860s. This group lacked education and skills; thus, they accepted any job that was offered to them. It was extremely common to be working in the coal mining industry because it was the only job that was being offered at the time. In 1900, 14,000 Lithuanians immigrants settled in Chicago where they were offered theater production, militarism, and politics. The growth of this immigrant group halted during the times of World War I because of their country’s involvement in the war. The second wave of immigration had a larger population, which consisted of trained and educated leaders who wanted to return to their country someday. When the Cold War took place between the United States and the Soviet Union it made it almost impossible for these immigrants to go back to their homeland; as a result, they planned to stay in the United States for the rest of their lives (Stephan 667-668). In Granquist’s article “Lithuanian Americans” states “By 1990 the U.S. Bureau of the Census listed 811,865 Americans claiming ‘Lithuanian’ as a first or second ancestry” (Granquist 883).
The Lithuanian’s lifestyle gradually started stabilizing as their sense of nationalism grew for the United States. The Lithuanians brought different cuisines, clothing, and holidays to the United States. The food they ate was different than the regular American meal. Their main entrees consisted of pork, potatoes, and dairy products. When they were on a diet they would eat dark, flavorful mushrooms, herring, eels, sausages, and dark rye breads. Cuisines on holiday festivities included jellied pigs feet, goose stuffed with prunes, and roasted suckling pig. The clothing they wore was the same as Americans on a regular workday, but on festivals, market days, and special events in the old country the women had worn the colorful regional dress of Lithuania. Finally, they brought their own holidays such as Lithuanian Independence Day, Lithuanian Kingdom Day, and the Roman Catholic holiday known as Feast of St. Casimir (Granquist 885).
Roman Catholicism was the common religion followed among Lithuanian Americans; however, there was also a small number of Lutherans,