Large, thick, high and mighty oak, where the devil was cooking his deceits and where the idols of gods were set up, was always green, in winter and in summer, its crown was so wide up high and its foliage so thick that not a single drop of rain could fall through it. This is how the oak considered sacred by the pagans is described by German monks in their chronicles in the 14th – 17th century. The place for the cult used to be set up in oaks. A sacred fire of oak logs used to be kept under the oaks in the pagan times, and sacrifices used to be made for the gods living in the oak: Perkūnas, Patrimpas, Patimas. People used to pray for strength and health by the oak. It’s been said that Perkūnas never strikes an oak. Thunder never strikes nor hits the oak. Thus oaks, as lighting protectors, were used to be planted by homesteads, and their branches used to be placed under the trusses in the cottages.
It was forbidden to cut the sacred oaks or even break their branches. People were convinced by their ancestors that they should not harm or cut the oak, otherwise they will be punished. Once some evil person broke several branches of an oak and trampled them mocking, and soon afterwards the skin from that arm and leg had fallen off. Oak woods could have comprised 15-20 percent of all the forests in the 15th century. Plenty of place names mentioning oaks remind us of those times up until now. The most common – Ažuolynė.
Before the potato cultivation time acorns used to be the main feed for pigs. Upon famine the flour of dried acorns used to be mixed even in bread. Up until now acorn coffee is deliciously enjoyed. Herbalists and pharmacists don’t pass through an oak either. Fresh glossy oak bark reduces inflammations, cures cold and stops bleeding. Solid and durable wood is being used for shipbuilding, manufacturing of musical instruments or luxurious furniture.
The crucifix used to be affixed on the remaining old oaks and chapels or icons used to be placed there even in the beginning of the 20th century. Nowadays the oak woods are the symbol of nation’s strength and vitality. Some oaks remind us that book-hawkers used to hide forbidden books in their hollows. Others remind of essential battles won or other events important to the country. In the minds of Lithuanians an oak is always a ruler of the woods: with amber crown adorned, the king of trees was called.