CULTURE, EDUCATION, HEALTH
Lithuanian culture was not isolated. As early as in the XIV century Lithuania has widely opened the doors to European masters of fine crafts. Since the Middle Ages many monument sites have survived such as Vilnius old town which was determined as UNESCO World Heritage alongside with Trakai Castle, Gediminas Castle, the old towns of Kaunas and Klaipeda.
Lithuania is known for the large number and variety of the castle hills, which hosted wooden defensive castles. Castle hills have become an integral part of the Lithuanian landscape.
Along with the language of ancestors, arts and crafts have reached us from ancient times. Manufacturing crosses is rooted in especially deep tradition. This unique form of Lithuanian folk art is included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. While in Lithuania, the eye catches a great number of wooden and wrought iron crosses, wooden pillars, chapels. They are erected at crossroads, forest edges, in estates to remind of the events important for Lithuania or for the person who installed them. They protect from evil eye, make the traveler’s eyes rise to heaven and his heart turn to prayer. Almost in every Lithuanian village one can find a master of this art form.
The largest museum of crosses is near the city of Siauliai. Today, it is declared by UNESCO a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. In our time, this tradition is passed over to craftsmen who create wooden crosses and chapels . Decorated with geometric and floral ornaments (with a symbolic meaning), such traditional crosses serve a specific purpose when set in cemeteries near roads or intersections and homes.
Lithuanian culture was influenced by various factors and traditions . It is an interesting mixture of elements of pagan mythology and Christianity. During the Renaissance period and later , professional Lithuanian art was greatly influenced by traditions of Western Europe. Indigenous variety of Lithuanian culture is rooted in the multicultural heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (XIV-XVIII c.) . Lithuanian cultural borders go beyond the ethnic borders of Lithuania which enclose different famous people who live in present-day Poland, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
For more than a hundred years, Lithuania has cherished its national tradition of the song and dance holiday. This is one of the biggest cultural events in Lithuania held every four years. Song and dance festival is known as the most universal expression of the Lithuanian national, cultural, artistic , social and political identity in the modern state. It is a living link connecting ancient folklore heritage, contemporary national culture and professional art.
Tradition and symbolism of song and dance festival in Lithuania 2003 was declared a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The history of modern professional Lithuanian art and music began with the artist and composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911). The works of this talented artist combined symbolism and romanticism . The early years of Lithuanian Independence were marked by flourishing of literature, art, theater and music.
Dramatic events of the XX century were the reason that a number of Lithuanian writers , artists, scientists chose to emigrate to the West. The works of those writers and artists who emigrated to Western Europe and the U.S. nowadays have become part of the cultural heritage of Lithuania.
The latest cultural phenomena in Lithuania have thrived on the fertile soil of ethnic culture and traditions of the European context . Lithuanian theater repeatedly enjoyed high appreciation from the audience and from critics of Lithuania and foreign countries. Directors Eimuntas Nekrošius, Donatas Banionis, Oskaras Korshunovas , Rimas Tuminas Jonas Vaitkus and Gintaras Varnas occupy deserved places in the hall of the national cultural fame. The country boasts of many well-known professional symphony and chamber orchestras , choirs and opera soloists , ballet performers. Throughout the year, one can witness numerous cultural events that include excellent annual international festivals of classical music, theater, film and poetry, which are attended by the famous Lithuanian and foreign artists.
Lithuania is also well known as a country of jazz. Annually, artists and lovers of jazz hold several international festivals in Kaunas, Birštonas and Vilnius. Having returned its independence in the XX century , Lithuania opened itself again to the world culture. Commonality of unique symbols , mentality of the people comprising the core of culture became available to every interested citizen of the world. Lithuanian culture has withstood many tests. Extremely strong potential of its creators is entering the next stage of development , greatly contributing to the world culture.
The formal educational system in Lithuania was established at the end of the XVI century. Educational Commission of Lithuanian-Polish state - the first Ministry of Education (to use a modern term) in Europe was established in 1773. It laid the foundation of the country education system. In the years of Independence (1918 – 1940), it was mandatory to go to a four-year primary school. During the USSR period (1940 - 1990), the educational system in Lithuania was severely centralized under the control of Moscow authorities. Russian language in schools was obligatory, but the secondary and higher education can also be obtained in the Lithuanian language. Dominant communist ideology established close relations of cooperation between secondary schools and created conditions for free secondary education.
Modern educational system in Lithuania is based on European cultural values . Since 1992, education reform is based on democratic education experience of Lithuania and Europe. Children start schooling at the age of 6-7 years. Primary education lasts for four years, the basic compulsory education takes up six years and secondary education - two years. Children must go to school till 16 years of age. Schools are operating on a ten-point grading system.
There are about 1,900 secondary schools in Lithuania with nearly 565,000 thousand students. After completing secondary school, entrants have the opportunity to continue their studies at 48 institutions of higher education, among them 37 state (15 universities and 16 colleges) and 17 private educational institutions (six universities and 11 colleges)
Lithuania uses its natural wealth, which present historically, enough wisely. Thanks to the long-term traditions, which Lithuanians profess, there is a big number of famous rehabilitation centers, resorts and sanatoriums, arranged on the riverbanks and forest expanses of Lithuanian Republic. Depending on the age and the kind of disease everybody could take the course of rehabilitation in one of more than 10 of such institutions for children as well as for the adults. The combination of high quality medical service and low price of treatment, comparatively to other EU states, turns Lithuania into the priority country for foreign patients.
Interesting fact that in the contrast with Ukraine, Lithuania pays attention to development of such branch of medical service as the rehabilitation. The rehabilitation specialists get their professional training mostly in the Lithuanian higher institutions. The rehabilitation helps to restore body after operation, provides recovery to operated joints or ligaments, prevents the formation of blood clots and gives the chance to avoid a lot of after operation complications and side effects. The program of rehabilitation is gathered up for each patient individually. Not just rehabilitologists assist the patient, but the physiotherapists, psychologists and some other specialists too. The optimal term for rehabilitation is recommended during 2-3 weeks, and the best time to begin it is no later than one month after medical operations.
The most popular sanatoriums are considered such establishments as the sanatorium for adults “Egle” and “Draugistes sanatoria” and “Saulute“ for children in Drukininkai where the patients can take medical care during the whole year. Druskininkai which is called the Lithuanian “Baden-Baden” is considered as the one of the first East European centers of climate, mud, balneological and eco-tourism. Over the years the huge experience has been accumulated in such spheres as cardiovascular therapy system, the digestive tract, the peripheral nervous system, the musculoskeletal system, the respiratory, the gynecological diseases and the disbolism. The sodium-calcium mineral waters, the bathtubs with the mineralization in 10,20or 40 grams per liter, the Galvanic, the pearl, iodobromine, carbonaceous and turpentine baths with the herbs, the therapeutic exercises in the swimming pools and gyms and the psychotherapy etc. are used with the purpose of below treatments. One of the resort wonder is the source of beauty “Grogys” which contains more than 50 grams of different mineral salt thanks to which the skin becomes young and clean.
Since 1985 the sanatoriums “Palangos linas ” for adults and “Palangos gintaras” for children in Palanga provide spa services as well as rehabilitation treatments. In addition to Druskininkai services there is a wide range of the recovery procedures after the operations and the injuries.
The practice of the rehabilitation center “Abromishkes”, which is near town Trakai, is adapted for little patients as well as for adults. The specialized assistance in prophylaxis, therapy of the cardiovascular system, the treatment ofthe nervous system’s deceases as well as the joints and the injuries are also provided there. The children’s department
isprovides special treatment of the respiratory, the neurological, eyes diseases and the diseases of the locomotor apparatus.