The legend of Neris and Nemunas

According to the legend, once ran Neris – nimble and cheerful – between green hills. Young Neris rushed towards Dauguva. It seemed that nothing would shift her course. But then she learned about Nemunas. And one morning Neris decided that she wanted to run towards him.

‘But you have to go to Dauguva,’ the hollow voice of the Earth echoed, and a heavy chain of hills blocked her path.

Neris felt upset. She was very eager to meet Nemunas, but could not disobey the Earth. Torn between the two, she wriggled and twisted. This was how the villages of the Great and the Little Svyruonėliai* sprung up. Even though birds sang love songs, Neris remained sad. This is where five islets and the large river loop beside Buivydžiai appeared. Finally, the Earth conceded. The joy of Neris was boundless, she whirled and laughed in the shoals. It was a dance of happiness. Up to this day this place is called the Shoal of the Dance of Virgins.

The coastal hills and valleys were pleased too – paths through the most beautiful places opened up for Neris. One after another, friends gathered around her: Žeimena, Vilnia, Vokė, Bražuolė, Dūkšta, Žiežmara, Musė, and finally, even the great stream of Šventoji rushed to join.

One morning, Neris wore a white veil of fog, opened her blue eyes, and laid her eyes on Nemunas. Where the two rivers met, flowers burst into bloom.

The news about Nemunas, Neris, and their journey together to the sea spread far and wide. All rivers of Lithuania rushed to greet Nemunas and Neris and offered their waters to these great rivers. Only the beautiful Minija of Semogitia ran late. Up to this day noone knows whether she got to the bay by herself, or was shown the way by the great and persistent Nemunas.

* Lith. svyruoti – ‘to sway, swing, rock’.