Meaning: “to dive like a swimmer”
Beautiful Neringa is a city that lies in the Curonian Spit, a jewel on the Baltic coast. A famous resort which boasts the highest sand dunes in all of Europe, it was once the seat of the Teutonic Knights, in fact, it belonged to Germany for 700 years before being handed over to Lithuania in 1923. Though the regions inhabitants were not Germans themselves, they were a melange of various Baltic tribes comprised mostly of Latvian, Prussian and Lithuanian fishing villages. Today Neringa is renowned for its beauty and summer getaways for Lithuanian, Russian, Latvian and German tourists.
Legend has it that the city got its name from a virginal giantess. There are a few different legends of the maiden floating around, most of the legends tell of a gentle giant who built a mound of sand to keep the stormy waves of the Baltic sea at bay, but the most amusing, (made famous by a Lithuanian children’s book, written and illustrated by Domicela Tarabildienės in 1949, Naglis ir Neringa), is s quirky tale about unrequited love, which includes the love sick dragon by the name of Naglis, (also the name of a famous dune on the sands of the Curonian Spit).
Neringa lived on the Baltic coast, like the city named for her, she was renowned for her beauty, she caught the attention of a local dragon or a sea serpent by the name of Naglis, who quickly fell in love with her. When Neringa did not return his love, he started to eat the local fishermen in grief. In order to completely cut of all ties with Naglis the dragon, Neringa had to create a strip of sand between the bay and the Baltic sea, which would seperate her and her subjects from the dragon forever. This is supposedly how the spit was created.
As for the etymology of Neringa itself, many sources claim that it is derived from an ancient Latvian or Prussian word neria which means “to dive like a swimmer.” The name has been in usage as a feminine given name for awhile, it most likely caught on after 1923 when the spit was incorporated into Lithuania and the legend of the giantess revived. Its name day in Lithuania August 20.