image: H.E. Ambassador of the Netherlands to Lithuania Mr. Jack Twiss Quarles van Ufford
Lithuanian Sodai straw garden making has been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during the eighteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage taking place at the Cresta Mowana Resort in Kasane, Republic of Botswana from Monday 4 to Saturday 9 December 2023.
Sodai straw gardens are hanging ornaments made from the stalks of grains. H.E. Ambassador of the Netherlands to Lithuania Mr. Jack Twiss Quarles van Ufford told us: ” Sodai are one of the many examples of a strong and vibrant identity of Lithuanian culture and its people. Often ages old they form the cherished backbone of an identity that never ceased to exist or linger despite centuries of forceful attempts by occupying nations. Like the language it gave and gives the country and the people something to rally around, a unifying force. It is living culture handed over from generation to generation. And let’s not forget: it is simply sodai yra labai graži !” (gardens are beautiful)
Tweet of H.E. Ambassador of Lithuania to the Netherlands Mr. Jack Twiss Quarles van Ufford, Dutch Ambassador to Lithuania
Sodai gardens are associated with well-being and spirituality. Ornaments are hung for example over the cradles of babies, wedding tables, Lithuanian homes are often decorated with sodai gardens for Easter and Christmas.
UNESCO points out that an integral part of traditional wooden home interiors, sodai gardens are viewed as spiritual gifts. They provide a sense of shared cultural heritage and continuity to the practising communities while strengthening communal partnerships, intergenerational bonds and cultural diversity.
Author: Beata Bruggeman-Sękowska is an award-winning international journalist, TV correspondent, author, chief editor of international journalism centre, Central and Eastern Europe Centre, president of the European Institute on Communist Oppression and a sworn translator. She was born in Warsaw, Poland and has also Armenian blood and roots in Lvov, which is part of Ukraine. She has been living in Heerlen, the Netherlands since 2005.