In legends and fairy tales, forests and trees have always been described as magical, mysterious places. Very often they are considered to be inhabited by elves, dwarves, samodivas, giants, witches etc. According to the ancient Greeks, some trees such as pomegranate had nymphs living in them, the ash tree housed Meliae, while oaks had dryads.
There is also the world famous legend about the Tree of Life, thought to be located in the very center of the world and considered to be a link between earth and sky. Trees have had many and varied symbolic meanings in man's notions since antiquity. Here are some of them.
Oak is represented as a holy tree in numerous cultures. For the ancient Greeks it was a symbol of peace, security and immortality. It was also called the tree of Zeus and Hera.
For the Celtics, the oak was also a holy tree. To obtain prophetic abilities, the ancient druids would eat chestnuts in order to make their prophecies.
In Ancient Greece, beech was dedicated to the mother of Zeus - Rhea. In the Near East it is considered the holy tree of the goddess Cybele. In both cultures it symbolizes immortality and prosperity. For the Greeks however, beech was also related to the ruler of the underworld - Hades. As such, it was also recognized as a Tree of the Dead.
For the Celtics, beech was a symbol of beauty. They dedicated the tree to their god Fagus.
In the 18th century Westphalia, there was a widespread superstition that babies came from the broken branches of beech and then storks would take them to their parents.
The walnut was identified as a symbol of female sexuality and fertility in ancient Rome.
The French on the other hand believed that a year with a high yield of walnuts meant a high number of children being born.
A belief goes that if a person falls asleep under the branches of a linden tree, their face will become as fresh and young as its leaves. Because of this, it is considered a magical tree, that provides serenity and youth. Another belief states that if you carry a linden flower or branch you can't get sick from contact with a sick person.
According to Celtic beliefs, elder branches were the homes of small whimsical fairies who could either help or harm a person. The druids used elder for various remedies. It was thought that elder protected from malicious witches and evil spirits.
Another belief goes that if elder is not placed in all open areas of the home, the lady of the house will suffer bad luck and break a lot of dinnerware during the year.