According to an ancient Lithuanian legend, Jurate, the beautiful goddess of the sea, who lived in a palace of amber at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, fell in love with a humble fisherman named Kastytis. When the great god of thunder, Perkunas, found out about it, he became very angry at Jurate for her love for a mortal and in a jealous rage killed Kastytis with lightning bolts and shattered Jurate’s undersea palace.
Even today, when winds whip up raging storms in the Baltic Sea, one can hear Jurate’s mournful cries for her beloved Kastytis. The crying of the goddess upsets the sea which washes the amber fragments of her destroyed palace on the sandy shores. That is why the best time for gathering amber is after a storm.
Scientifically speaking, amber is the fossilized resin of pine trees that died more than twenty million years ago. But, for the people of Lithuania, amber is far more than fossil resin. It is the symbol of the whole nation, that immerses in its history and mythology. Amber is used in the Lithuanian language for various reasons. It can be found in people’s names, hotels, museums, etc.
Many young Lithuanians spending much of their daily time to collect amber from the shores of the Baltic Sea, so they can sell it to the black market. In daily basis, they pass over the Curonian lagoon to reach the vast shores of the Curonian Spit, a 98 km long, thin, curved sand-dune spit named Neringa, that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. In this place, it is settled a small fishing village, Juodkrante, in which the first documented history of found natural amber began back in 1854.