February 10, 2008
Jews on parade
Lithuanian Catholics' anti-Semitic tradition
Lithuanian Catholics have an incredibly odd, and I would say bigoted, Lent tradition of dressing up as heavily stereotyped, grotesque Jews -- haggling peddlers with big noses, sidelocks and hideous features. The Forward has the story and reports that Jews in Vilna don't complain because they don't want to cause conflict.
During Carnival - or Uzgavenes, as it is known in Lithuania - Catholics from around the world congregate for a feast of foods prohibited during Lent. The festival usually involves a parade or circus, with attendees in masks and costumes. But in Vilnius - commonly known to Jews as Vilna - participants traditionally dress and act "as Jews," a feat that generally calls for masks with grotesque features, beards and visible ear locks and that is often accompanied by peddling and by stereotypically Jewish speech.
And I thought Mardi Gras was a strange, unholy tradition.
This article was cross-posted at The God Blog.