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Programm for improving the integration of academicians and scientists from the third-countries in Lithuania

Project concept:

The key project concept was, according to the experience of foreign countries, to research and evaluate (through the use of comparative analysis) the integration possibilities of the scientists from the third countries in Lithuania.

Customs of Lithuania PDF Print

Custom, then, is the great guide of human life,” wrote Scottish philosopher David Hume. Knowing the customs of a country is, in effect, a guide to understanding the soul of that country and its people.

Take a glimpse into the unique world of Lithuania‘s customs: how people marry, how families celebrate holidays and other occasions, what people eat, and how they socialize and have fun.

Marriage and Family

Lithuanians usually marry while in their 20s, but some couples wait until they have more financial security. A lot of young couples take a bank loan to buy accommodation, but some of them live with their parents during the first years of marriage and may rely on them for financial support for some time. It is becoming more popular to live together before, or instead of, getting married. It is a legal requirement that marriages be performed at city hall, but many couples now also have a church ceremony.

Weddings in rural areas may be quite elaborate, with the celebration lasting two days. Traditional customs are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. One of these involves the groom’s friends having to buy, with candy and whiskey, the bride and groom’s way through a succession of “ropes” of flowers that block the way home from the ceremony, the last of which usually stretches across the gate of the couple’s home. According to tradition, parents meet the newlyweds at the door with bread, salt, and wine glasses filled with water.

The average family has one or two children; larger families are unusual. The father is generally considered the head of the family, but both parents share in raising children and working outside the home. In cities, most people live in apartments, but single-family homes are more common in rural areas. Many people in urban areas own or rent small gardens on the outskirts of cities to grow food and to have a place to relax.

In Lithuania family lies in the basis of the social structure. Every family observe their unique occasions like birthdays, anniversaries etc. Some of the occasions like wedding and funeral include extended family and friends. People gather to pay their respect to a deceased person. Funeral are attended by many people. Wedding ceremonies were attended by people from neighboring villages as well in the old days.

However, during the recent years it is a tendency that the birth rate falls consequently and that the number of marriages is decreasing, while the average marital age is increasing. Besides, more and more couples decide to live together instead of getting married. Since regaining independence, there was a considerable change of public opinion on demographic and family behaviour. Despite the fact that the importance of family as a virtue has not changed much, marriage is now seen by many young people as an obsolete institution, divorce is more freely justified, proliferates attitudes that a child could grow in incomplete families. Also, independent and working woman is more and more valued.  There was a big decrease in the way women assess the significance of children in their life and abortions are increasingly justified.

Traditional Lithuanian wedding


Traditional Lithuanian wedding cake - Šakotis


5.2.2. Socializing

It is customary when greeting for men to shake hands (with direct eye contact and a smile), but women are less likely to do so. A handshake is nearly always used in professional contacts. When introducing a man, one uses Ponas (“Mr.”) before the last name; for a woman, the term is Ponia (“Mrs.”) or Panele (“Miss”). A person’s professional title is also used before the last name when applicable. Good friends may kiss cheeks. Adults do not use first names with each other until invited to do so, but young people are called by their first names. The most common terms for greeting are Laba diena (“Good day”), Labas rytas (“Good morning”), Labas vakaras (“Good evening”), Labas (“Hello”), and Sveikas or Sveiki (both mean “How do you do?” but “Sveiki” is more casual).

Much socializing in Lithuania takes place in the home. If invited to a Lithuanian's home, bring wine, flowers, or sweets to the hostess. Give an odd number of flowers (do not give chrysanthemums - they are used in funerals. Gifts are generally opened when received. Punctuality is expected.  Impromptu visits, even between friends and neighbors, are not very common, although unexpected visitors are usually made welcome.

When invited for a meal, it is impolite to leave food on the plate because it may suggest that one has not enjoyed one’s meal. Table manners are quite relaxed in Lithuania. Wait to be told where to sit. Table manners are Continental - hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating. Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table. Take small amounts of food initially so you may accept second helpings. Try everything. Napkins are kept on the table, not on the lap. To indicate you have not finished eating, cross your knife and fork on your plate. When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the prongs facing down and the handles facing to the right. The host offers the first toast. Toasting is generally done with hard liquor and not wine or beer. You should reciprocate with your own toast later in the meal.


5.2.3. Recreation

Popular sports include basketball, soccer, rowing boats, volleyball, cycling, tennis, and skiing. Families enjoy camping, and those who live near the coast enjoy going to the beach. Other popular leisure activities include watching television, visiting friends, and gardening. Cultural events are usually well attended, especially ones involving national dance and song.

5.2.4. Holidays and Celebrations

The official public holidays of Lithuania include New Year’s Day (1 January), the Restoration of the Lithuanian State (16 February), Mother’s Day (first Sunday in May), Easter, the Anniversary of the Coronation of Grand Duke Mindaugas of Lithuania (6 July), the National Day of Hope and Mourning, also known as All Souls’ Day (1 November), and Christmas (25–26 December). Various local festivals are held throughout the year.

Lithuanian Custom includes Mother's day.  Though it is a part of a family occasion it is celebrated by the whole society where mother plays an important role. Some of the Lithuanian people still believed in their ancient religion and worship natural forces. Perkunas or Thunder God was the chief God. They were worshiped in the forests and their wills were elaborated by priests called Kriviai. They are the last pagan people of Europe.

The celebrations of family occasions are unique and is typical of a particular family. Anniversaries and birthdays are celebrated within the confines of family members while some celebration are attended by large number of individuals. Generally christening, funerals and weddings are attended by large groups and the Funerals mainly draws huge crowd other than the blood relations and known person. Unknown people attends the funeral and in past weddings were also attended by unknown people.

Christmas Eve is the major celebration and the festival is celebrated according to the Lithuanian Traditions. Preparation starts many days prior to the arrival of the festival and is followed by home cleaning, home decoration, buying new clothes, giving gifts to the children along with the preparation of delicious sumptuous meal. The greatness of Lithuanian Traditions lies in the fact that they have maintained their traditions exactly the same way till date.

Costumes of Lithuania reveal that orderliness and rational thinking characterize the life of this agricultural country. Folk song and dance are integral part of their life. Their daily life events reflect in the dance forms. Every step is meaningful. They perform song and dance during an occasion.

Traditional Lithuanian Christmas decoration – crib (Prakartėlė)


Celebration of Shrove Tuesday (Užgavėnės)

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Traditional Lithuanian „verbos“ created to mark Palm Sunday



Lithuanian Easter eggs

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Violet (Žibuoklė) – one of the most popular flowers for Mother’s Day


Tulip – traditional flower for International Woman‘s day

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Celebration of Midsummer Day (Joninės)

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The National Day of Hope and Mourning, also known as All Souls’ Day (Visų Šventųjų diena)

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Lithuanian craftwork created from straw. These are suspended from wires and in folklore are believed to help ward off evil spirits.

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5.2.5. The Role of Religion

The Roman Catholic Church helped preserve the county's identity during the Soviet Union years and so it has great influence on daily life in Lithuania until now.  The church's influence on the culture is seen in Lithuanian festivals, many of which are religious observances as well as in the celebration of name days rather than birthdays.

The Cathedral of Vilnius (Vilniaus Šv. Stanislovo ir Šv. Vladislovo arkikatedra bazilika) – the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania