distinguished among other regions of Lithuania by the richness of its ethnocultural
heritage. The larger part of its territory is inhabited by the so-called Dzūkians
of the fields, who have been engaged in agriculture since
olden times. The early villages of raftsmen and fishermen have survived on the
banks of the Nemunas. The southern, forested part of Dzūkija is the kingdom of
the so-called Dzūkians of the forests. In this part the terrain has changed
little and is the most archaic, and the centuries old traditions and customs,
unique lifestyle, traditional crafts and household implements have survived. In
the villages features of communal life are common: collective cattle herding,
fires built in cemeteries on All Souls’ Day and collective prayer for the dead.
It is only in Dzūkija that one can still see how rye is sown “under the
plough”, how rye is flailed, and how an injury or a dislocated joint is cured
elements of building decoration and, certainly, crosses – high, double, with
spears – have been preserved. One can expect to see a cross decorated with an
“apron” – the way only Dzūkian women adorn them. In the pagan period oak trees,
the abodes of God Perkūnas, used to be enveloped with shrouds. Upon the
introduction of Christianity, it was allowed to adorn crosses in the same
manner on the grounds that Christ also wore a shroud on his loin. Gradually a
shroud turned into an apron tied on a cross as a sign of respect and gratitude.
It is also known that they were tied by way of repentance, farewell, apology or
seeking for help…
is a huge treasure - herbal medicine, incantations, beliefs, magic,
superstitions, interpretations of dreams and natural phenomena, weather and
harvest predictions, deep knowledge
of nature and the ability to live under its shelter. The unwritten code of
moral integrity is still valid in villages and is passed from generation to
the small villages that give the national park unique colours and vigour are on
the verge of extinction. As the old owners of homesteads do not live there
anymore, soon there will be no one to protect the monuments of early village
architecture and ethnic culture, customs, traditions, dialect and the living
villages bread is still being baked and sourdough is made. There one can taste
buckwheat muffins, potato cakes, mushroom rolls and other Dzūkian delicacies.
The kneading and baking of bread is one of the women’s most difficult
toils. Nowadays bread is baked rather
seldom, and even more so-on a peel. Though somewhat forgotten, buckwheat
muffins return to the Dzūkian table and are offered to a welcome guest.
distil moonshine, also called “the capercaillie’s tear” or “spring water”, only
for their own needs and always rather cautiously. Having watched the process of
distillation for several nights, one can realise how complex it is, but will
not be able to master the skills… However, it is impossible to imagine a visit
to Dzūkija without a richly laid table, songs and moonshine.
inhabitants of the Dzūkija national park walk on the “mushroom paths” inherited
from their fathers and grandfathers. Dzūkians consider boletus a real mushroom,
while others chanterelles, yellow knights and morels – they dry and sell rather
than eat them.
songs can be heard in villages less and less frequently. Ethnographic bands of
the villages of Žiūrai, Marcinkonys, Margionys, Zervynos, Musteika still sing
the songs passed from generation to generation, greet their guests with them
and teach them their dances and games.
welcome to visit the villages of the Dzūkija national park they will bring to you
back to your childhood, while young people and children will get glimpses of
the time that seems to have been gone forever...