10 May HEMP IN FOLKLORE AND CUSTOMS
According to remaining sources, since hemp plant was popular in the production of fiber, food, and medicine, it left its footprint in Lithuanian folklore and customs. Vaižgantas – deity of hemp and linen, Mardi Gras custom, in which Kanapinis (made from hemp – lit.) defeats Lašininis (made from flitch – lit.) – light conquers darkness. There are numbers of proverbs left, for example, “Came out like Philip from hemp.”, “Started to fight like Kanapinis with Lašininis.”, “Scares like sparrows from hemp.”, “Not every sparrow gets to peck hemp.” or “Frowned like sparrows around help.”. Even in the daily newspaper “Lithuanian Daily Friend” of 1934-08-03, which was printed by American Lithuanians, who left their homeland, song “I sowed hemp on a seashore” was mentioned. In advertisement there was an invitation to the commemoration of Darius and Girėnas (first Lithuanian pilots, who flew across the Atlantic Sea) in celebration of Lithuanian Day, which was held in Harlem aerodrome, invitation called to come and to “sing powerfully” together.
Though hemp that is growing in Lithuania has almost imperceptible amount of narcotic substances, however in old times, differently from now, this wasn’t regulated, thus hemp with enough psychoactive substances sometimes appeared, probably because of that throughout all Lithuania hemp related spells on Lithuanian holidays have risen, including Christmas Eve, through which it was possible to predict future, hear animals talking or see spirits of ancestors. Usage of hemp for spells and medicine we can assign to archaic, shamanistic culture reaching customs and lifestyle because its unexplainable effect was identified with the world beyond ours. A specially Samogitians loved to drink hemp milk on Christmas Eve, they also used hemp oil, the dish with Kūčia went around the table, everyone ate it in order for the next year to be rich and fertile, this can be connected to the later tradition of bread breaking. No less interesting are the old Lithuanian spring customs, when small balls from hemp, peas, and honey were made, and men that ate them were rolling on the ground, that way depicting waking up of bears. Big importance of hemp in Lithuanian spiritual practices is well demonstrated in fact, which was captured by ethnographer A. Mažiulis in 1939. According to him in the county of Rodūnė one of the synonyms of Assumption Day was Kanapinės (hemp celebration – lit.), because “hemp grass smokes from all kinds of diseases”. The fact cannot be excluded that the usage of hemp for spiritual experiences was passed to European nations precisely by people from the Baltic region.