Where do lakes come from?

In Lithuanian folklore, the origin of lakes is explained in two ways. Some say that a lake descends to earth from the sky each time someone guesses its name correctly. Others tell stories of how lakes are dug by a giant pig.

Lakes float in the sky until someone inadvertently utters their name and the black cloud – zhookt! – descends into a hollow and becomes a large lake. Usually lakes carry names which resemble how humans call their bulls, e.g. Juodis.

There is a third version of the origin story of lakes. It tells of how once a giant hog began to root around in a hollow. It dug and dug until the next day the hog was gone and everyone saw a lake rippling and sparkling in its stead. For example, it is believed that such was the origin of lake Paršežeris* in Samogitia**.

* The name of the lake Paršežeris is a compound made of paršas ‘a pig’ and ežeras ‘a lake’.
** Samogitia (Lith. Žemaitija) – West Lithuania.