Local superstitions and history swirl around this unassuming tile named “Stebuklas” (“miracle” in Lithuanian), hidden in the vast Cathedral Square plaza. The stebuklas is most famous for its magical, wish-granting properties, but it also represents a momentous day in Lithuanian history.
From August 23, 1939 until about 1991, Lithuania was considered a Republic under the Soviet Union, much to the protest of its people. Many saw the integration of Lithuania into the USSR as a farce, and called it an illegal takeover, a military occupation. Tense relations reigned between the Soviet government and Lithuania for 50 years, until the year 1989. The USSR at this point was on shaky ground politically: the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Satellites were restless, and Soviet citizens themselves became louder and more outspoken than ever in their unhappiness.
The loudest and the clearest display of dissent, however, was perhaps the quietest and most peaceful. On August 23, 1989, approximately two million people joined hands across Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to make the Baltic Way, the longest unbroken human chain in history, spanning over 370 miles. The chain began in Tallinn, Estonia and trailed down through Riga, Latvia and finally ended in Vilnius, Lithuania, right at the stebuklas tile in Cathedral Square. The Baltic Way made a powerful statement to their Soviet government and also imparted a deeply emotional message of human rights and national sovereignty to the world at large, leading to the restoration of each country’s freedom by 1991.
The stebuklas, therefore, is more than just a miracle tile: it is hallowed ground, a piece of inspirational history. If you do make it to the Cathedral Square in Vilnius, superstition would have you find the tile all on your own, without purposefully looking for it. That part may be more challenging, but once you do find the miracle tile, here’s what you do: spin around three times clockwise, jump up and clap once (not totally necessary, but certainly entertaining for those watching you), and make the biggest wish that comes from your heart. If it worked for the people in the Baltic Way of 1989, the stebuklas just might work its wonders for you too.