Customs in Lower Danube Green Corridor
 

Folk calendar

The Onion Leaves Calendar (01.01)
The Little Plough (01.01)
The Goat Dance (01.01)
Saint Vasile (01.01)
Epiphany (06.01)
The Carol with Horses (06.01)
Chirlăleasa (06.01)
The  aslant Wendesday (04.03)
The martyrs (09.03)
Însurăţitul / Înfărtăţitul /  Învăruichitul (28.05)
The Ascension / Ispas (28.05)
Eliseiul şi Vartolomeul (09.06)
The gold-haired fairy (24.06)
The Peter Saint (29.06)
The Crown’s Festival (June)
Paparuda (June)
Bălduşul (July)
Cercovii / Circovii (16-18.07; 22-24.07)
Marina (17.07)
Adormirea Maicii Domnului / Sfânta Maria Mare (15.08)
Scaloianu / Caloianul (July-August)
Filipii de toamnă (11-14.11)
Ignatul (20.12)
Chrisman Eve (24.12)
Naşterea Domnului (25.12)

 

The Onion Leaves Calendar (01.01)

During the New Year’s night, one splits an onion in two pieces and separate 12 leaves corresponding to the months of the year; after arranging them chronologically on the window’s ledge, salt the interior to anticipate the wet or dry season, given the accumulation or the lack of water drops in the onion “sark”. The work of the land it planned according to this augury.

The custom confirmed in Burila Mare.

          

The Little Plough (01.01)

Nowadays it is a fading custom. On the first day of the New Year, one carols from dawn until noon. The group of 6 or 8 years-old children used bells, lashes and a wooden plough adorned with colored paper binders. The little ploughmen, dressed in popular costumes, each crossed a furrow in the yard of the house they carolled; one of them held the handlers of the plough, another was whipping the lash. If the plough was carried by oxen, their horns were painted red. In the verses of the carol, the main character was the legendary Traian, involved in the works of the land, from breaking up the land until the baking of the bread.

The custom confirmed in Burila Mare.

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The Goat Dance (01.01)

Is included in the category of masks carols and practiced only on the first day of the New Year, so much by children, than by adolescents. The group of carollers, all dressed in popular costumes; sustain their play around the main character that plays the role of the goat. “The goat” carries a blanket on his back or sometimes, the skin of an animal. The goat’s head is the actual mask, consisting of jaws and horns; its upper part, shaped like an anted “L”, is pointed on a stick on which the horns, the ears, the eyes and the nostrils of the goat are mounted. At the base of the upper jaw, the lower mobile jaw is appointed with a string on the inside, always mounted over the articulation of the tie, so much as for the caroller to be able to bang cadently the goat’s jaws (its beard), the tufting and the bells. The main detail in the dance of the goat is the alert measure and rhythm, assured by a drum seconded by other instruments (violin, fife or accordion). The arrival of “the goat” at the houses is accompanied by a lot of noise, together with music and bell ringing or all kinds of thematic whistling, after which the good luck whishing are being said and the dance, the singing and the whipping of the leash take place.

The custom confirmed at Gruia.

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Saint Vasile (01.01)

Apart from other regions, in the county of Mehedinti, the custom presents some distinctive characteristics. Mainly, here too the image of Saint Vasile with his role of great compotator, lover of wine, women and parties, is embedded in the collective belief that everybody is indebted to follow his example on the first day of the year. However, in Mehedinti, there is something more to it: the strengthen of the nephew-midwife (not the birth midwife) relationship, with the accent on the sufficiently large hogmanays through which the nephews are about to pass. In the evening, the parents bring their children to the midwife and give her wafers. The midwife is prepared for that with hogmanays adorned with arnica leaves and coins in the dough. Assisted by the mother, the midwife gets the under one year-old children through the hogmanay, repeating the process twice, after which she crosses herself and rises the children to the beam of the house, whishing: “Welcomed are the nephews! As today, so shall be next year and many years from now! They are to live and grow; with good luck shall they feed!”

The custom confirmed at Garla Mare.
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Epiphany (06.01)

During the inner-war period, people danced like groups of “calusari”, from the New Year until “Boboteaza”, when the horses were chased about and the children started the “Iordanitul”, seconded by the band of “urâţi” (“ugly men”) – masked carollers who used a long pointed stick for collecting gifts from the chatelaines (bread or meat).

The custom confirmed at Garla Mare.

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The Carol with Horses (06.01)

In the “Boboteaza” day, several young men on horseback, carrying flags, pass by the houses of the villagers, baptizing their flags with bread dipped in fountain water. After they bedew the house with water and they throw frankincense on the roof, they improvise a wish for abundance and prosperity.

The custom confirmed at Devesel and Burila Mare.

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Chirlăleasa (06.01)

A specific custom on the “Boboteaza” evening, it actually represents a midnight carol, with a little bucket of water, basil, money and bells. One gives a round of the house and garden, repeating several times the “Chiraleasa” – a benefic incantation for abundance and good health, also found in other regions of the country under the name of “Chiraleasa” and having certain religious inspiration (“Kyrie eleison” = “God, have mercy on us”, in the Latin gospel) . The carollers are rewarded with food from the host’s table and in the end, the carollers all gather at a party.

This custom is confirmed and certified at Gogosu.

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The  aslant Wednesday (04.03)

In this day does not work because it possible to be ill or to be aslant.

The custom confirmed at Gârla Mare, Salcia.

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The martyrs (09.03)

The specific day for fire, with the role to purify everything. It fire up a cloth and it fumigate against the snakes over the village, (house, stable, coops, garden, grapery, apiary, fruit gardens). It made alms cakes with honey, in “S” or round forms. The means fortune, promenaded in grapery with a wine bottle and pork – sausage, or dig out a wine demijohn hidden last year. It cut some grapery strings that the grapery feel desire for a big fruit.

Confirmed to Campia Blahnitei.

At Vrata, it drinks a bottle of wine in grapery, for a big fruit.

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Însurăţitul / Înfărtăţitul /  Învăruichitul (28.05)

“Prinderea suratelor si a fartatilor”, named “Matcalau” or "Matcutatul Fetelor”, in another area. In Mehedinti county, it remembered since 1933, like a spring’s feast and in this cadre “the boys and girls foregather in the evening and it is crown with green branches”, in fact the transition between childhood and puberty, in good auspices, like a prepair for another existential etape. In function of appellation (insuratit, infartatit, invaruichit) it was deducted the gender of  these ritual’s protagonists, having a age between 5 to 14 years, maximum 15, being practice by the same gender. Follow 50 years, in Mehedinti county, the ritual had some local particularities:

In our days, this oath it is marked by kissing and embraced between protagonists, near a little flower tree and a water, where they round the little crown three time, and they dance with the crown on head. This tendency for a round movement, it is derivates by crown form, and it is the entrance for a good space, with good hope for the future.

Confirmed at Gârla Mare, Gruia.

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The Ascension (28.05)

The Wednesday from the sixth week after Easter, assimilated to the heroes cult, whose souls have been received in Heaven, the Ispas day ( a mythic personage, supposed witness of the Ascendance, with the Apostles implies both religious valences, but also laic, because, at the Ispas night, boys and girls go out to the hazel wood, hazel flowers being good as medicine and also for love; at the same time, the witches collect little hazel branches, which use at weddings and foreordained wife.

Confirmed at Bistriţa.

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Eliseiul şi Vartolomeul (09.06)

Affair of ripped wheat, with prohibition of physic work, because it is possible to rain with stone on the cornfield, also, at this time the “calus” (kind of Rumanian folk dance) is being buried.

Confirmed at Gârla Mare.

 

The Gold-haired fairy (24.06)

Unlike the rest of the country, in Mehedinti, this popular affair is less represented. It is made crowns, and they are drops over the house. The next day it is verified if the crowns have dew over them. Rich dew has meaning of wedding, over the year..

Custom confirmed at Salcia.

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The Peter Saint (29.06)

Being the most well known saint from the popular calendar, San Peter of the summer is celebrated by three days of fast and abstinence from work, representing 3 great qualities, that are recognized: in the past, he used to travel with Good an Earth, both being disguised into simple people, who cured Christians from different illnesses; On the other hand, San Petru is the patron of wolfs, having the power to clench their moth for 40 days, so that the good Christians could be protected; not in the last place, San Petru is appreciated as the patron of the hail, because 3 days he boiled the stones in sky, braking it into little pieces, making it white, so that the creeps wouldn’t be totally destroyed.

Confirmed at Burila Mică.

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The Crown's Festival (June)

It is still celebrated in Mehedinti, but only at Gruia, where people who collect the harvest take the first bundle most beautiful making a crown, which is very difficult because it plait in 3 like in 4. For the beginning it takes 10-15 bunches of ear and it plait in a cone form open to both heads. The cone’s base is large like the cropper head and at superior part it down the place for ear with long tails, in this mode that to be separated in the base aperture, segregate in two, for being kept with the hands, when the crown it is putted on the head. The crown in this mode realized, by the most beautiful ear, it maintain to the house’s icon, that in the next spring the ear’s been to be mixes with the seeds for a good harvest, after the place’s belief. Lasted the empiric aspects of this seeds selection, like Jesus when multiplied the breads, it noted the tendency of people to keep some beautiful seeds on field with the belief that it keep the fertility germens, on the field. To the sowing in the next spring, it belief that in the like contact, the quality of seems it was transmitted to the all field, assuring a foison.

Confirmed at Gruia.

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Paparuda (June)

The custom whit variable date, in the summer months, in function of sky caprice, to the drought field, initiate by old women and practiced by young girls, with the condition that these young girls are not married.

In a primary form, the custom consists in a movement at the village’s fountain, like a local pilgrimage, where the priest bless the water (less young girls naked, with body protected by “Boj” leaf. After the water blessing, the young girls with crown on head, made a pilgrimage in the inverse route, to another fountains, when was sprinkle with water and she sing an old song. It is obligatory that the young girls to have less 10 years and to make two faces in loam: “The rain’s mother and The Sun’s father. In conformity with the church’s prier, it believe that to the evening must rain, this fact is improbable in our day. There are the opinions and confirmations that the rain it bring by the church’s priest not by “Paparude” dance.

Custom confirmed at Şimian, Hinova, Devesel, Burila Mare, Gogoşu, Gruia, Pristol, Gârla Mare, Vrata, Salcia.

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Bălduşul (July)

In summer, after wheat reaping, children gather the straws left on the little street, so that they could fire them, in the evening. For the people amusement, it is throw in fire some “totalci” (pumpkin crust). The women boil fresh corn, so that they will not be the target of ironic shouts (To the playful women/ The garbage it after the door/ To put the bullocks/ To take out the garbage), from the participants who were caught in the game and good will.

Confirmed at Devesel.

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Cercovii / Circovii (16-18.07; 22-24.07)

Days with interdiction for physical work because of some imminent dangers, more or less related to Sant Ilie (20 July): vulnerability at unpredictable diseases, season favorable to hail, wolf attacks of firing of corn stacks.

Custom confirmed at Gârla Mare, Balta Verde, Ostrovul Mare, Izvoarele, Cozia, Salcia, Ergheviţa.

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Marina (17.07)

Local affair, at the middle of the first “Corcovi” of Saint Ilie. People do not go out  at field work, so that won’t be caused storms, hail and thunders, because only this day it the predilection target for disaster on people’s courtyards.

Custom confirmed at Gârla Mare, Ostrovul Mare, Gruia, Bistriţa, Ergheviţa.

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Adormirea Maicii Domnului / Sfânta Maria Mare (15.08)

Great religious celebration, with feasts and alms giving, after two weeks of outpost in the villages which had the church’s festival and “Nedeia”:Gruia, Şimian.

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Scaloianu / Caloianul (July-August)

Ancestral ritual used at the end of the XIXth century and at the beginning of the XXth century, and now has dissapered in Mehedinti. The ritual happened just in case of huge drought, in the spring and summer (Garla Mare) or when it rains (Vrata).

It was made only one puppet or two puppets (Garla Mare, Vrata). The puppet represent the role of a woman or a man and a woman (Garla Mare, Vrata), being made of loam (Vrata) or of earth (Garla Mare); it symbolized the rain mother. When there were made two puppets, one would have represented the Sun’s father and the other one the Rain’s Mother (Garla Mare). The central element of the ritual, consisted in burring the puppets, eventually on the edge of a river (Garla Mare), or they put on a loam throne made pylon and go with them at the whole (Vrata), and then to be unburied and throw in a fountain (Vrata). It was used a ritual text: “The Rain’s Mother has died/ The Sun’s Father has just resurred”, sometimes on the other side: “The Sun’s Father has died/ And the Rain’s Mother has just resurrected”, or with lexical variants (Garla Mare).

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Filipii de toamnă (11-14.11)

At the end of XIX-th century, In Mehedinti county, this feast is celebrate to beware from beasts, in this period everybody don’t work. It believed that the “Filipii” was some house Goods, the beast’s patron. Because in this period wolfs copulated, it is interdicted for women to beat out the garbage, in principal the ash, because the dam wolf it the brand and save from infertility, also it is interdicted in this period to say “wolf”.

In our day with this affair it believed that wolfs do not attack the cattle, but is not offer the charity.

Confirmed with variants at: Gârla Mare, Balta Verde, Ostrovul Mare, Vrancea, Tismana, Gruia, Izvoarele, Salcia.

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Ignatul (20.12)

Considerate the pig’s patron, the Saint Ignat is evocate by a special ritual to the pig’s cut. In this day; after singe and  cleaner the pig it putted on belly, and previous to decapitate it is make an incisions in cross form on back of the head and it is bestrew with salt and red wine by a an intact bottle, and it said a wish: “To eat it healthy”. 

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Chrisman Eve (24.12)

The most important winter folk custom in Mehedinti county, it billed in Chrisman Eve and the day after with variant practices by village of village.

In the evening, in the centre of village it made big fires disposed in circle. The priest blest, and after carol sing and play “Hora” (a traditional Romanian dance), it donned the cakes to children and brandy to the adults, in a pleasantry climate.

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Naşterea Domnului (25.12)

At the end of XIX-th century, in Mehedinti county, it believed that Santa Claus (Mos Craciun) it is an old man, the husband of Elisaveta, at Garla Mare.

Both Christian and unholy aspect of festival, the remember of Good Birth it is a source of pleasure in all village of Mehedinti county. 

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References

Chicet I., 1998: Calendarul popular al Mehedinţiului, Răstimp, Revistă de cultură şi tradiţie populară, nr. 1, pg. 26-29, Drobeta Turnu Severin.

Chicet I., 1998: Calendarul popular al Mehedinţiului, Răstimp, Revistă de cultură şi tradiţie populară, nr. 2, pg. 28-32, Drobeta Turnu Severin.

Chicet I., 1998: Calendarul popular al Mehedinţiului, Răstimp, Revistă de cultură şi tradiţie populară, nr. 3, pg. 30-33, Drobeta Turnu Severin.

Chicet I., 1998: Calendarul popular al Mehedinţiului, Răstimp, Revistă de cultură şi tradiţie populară, nr. 4, pg. 32-33, Drobeta Turnu Severin.

Chicet I., 1998: Calendarul popular al Mehedinţiului, Răstimp, Revistă de cultură şi tradiţie populară, nr. 6, pg. 29-31, Drobeta Turnu Severin.