Much folklore belief surrounds the oak tree. From ancient
times it has been regarded as sacred tree. The Druids venerated
the oak and performed many of their rites under the shadow
of its branches. When St. Augustine (the sixth-century archbishop
of Canterbury) preached Christianity to the ancient Britons,
he stood under an oak tree.
The ancient Hebrews also evidently held the oak as a sacred
tree. It is believed that Abraham received his heavenly visitors
under an oak. Rebekahs nurse was buried under an oak, called
afterward the oak of weeping. Jacob buried the idols of Shechem
under an oak. It was under the oak of Ophra that Gideon
saw the angel sitting who gave him instructions as to what he
was to do to free Israel.
When Joshua and Israel made a covenant to serve God, a
great stone was set up in evidence under an oak that was by the
sanctuary of the Lord. The prophet sent to prophesy against
Jeroboam was found at Bethel sitting under an oak. Saul and
his sons were buried under an oak, and, according to Isaiah,
idols were made of oak wood. Abimelech was made king beneath
an oak located in Shechem.
As late as the eighteenth century the oak was used in curing
diseases. It was believed that a toothache could be cured by boring
the tooth or gum with a nail to draw blood, and then driving
the nail into an oak tree. Another folk belief was that a child
with rupture could be cured by splitting an oak branch, and
passing the child through the opening backwards three times;
if the splits grew together the child would be cured.
It was widely believed that carrying acorns brought long life
and good luck, since the oak tree itself is used as a symbol of
strength and endurance.