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Festive Customs, Holidays

The Ball of Food Baskets

In the area of Târnava Mică, the ball of food baskets has a long tradition. The ball has two names:

  • The Ball of the Married Couples: only spouses can participate, young (unmarried) people cannot;
  • The Ball of Baskets: where food and drinks are brought in the basket.

The second name fully reflects even today the content of the event, people bringing all that is necessary in their covered baskets. The meaning of the first name has suffered changes in the course of time, currently only married couples are participating in the ball, whereas in the past, old people took part as well, especially since theatre performances were organized in which both young people as well as old ones used to play. Unfortunately nowadays no plays are organized but among the participants, the youngest and the oldest of the pairs are awarded prizes.

During old time balls, there was music only if both men and women sang together and the joyfulness was maintained by drinks in most of the evenings, which is why they served each other all the time. During today’s balls, music is provided by professional singers but their urge for drinking is still kept alive.

These balls have left nice memories in the hearts of the elderly and hopefully the future generations will remain with the same impressions.

Easter and the Easter Ball

One week ahead, Easter preparations begin in every house. The housewives and girls make cakes, all sorts of dishes and cleaning activities.

In the past the egg dyeing was a true ritual. Instead of dyes, onion skins were used which gave the red colour to the eggs. Nowadays eggs shine in different colours and shapes due to the leaves or flowers used for this purpose. The egg dyeing is the main occupation in the first day of Easter besides the Holy Communion.

In the evening, in the first day of Easter, the Easter Ball takes place, which is not known for any particular custom, neither today nor in the past. It should be borne in mind that in the past on the occasion of this ball a theatre performance was also prepared.

The organization of the ball is also important, since on the second day of the Easter, early in the morning, the gates of several houses disappear. Boys walk at night to steal gates and on the house where the host was not careful and the girl did not keep an eye on it, they take it and hide it away. If they succeed in stealing the gate, then the second day in the morning the whole family has to search for it. The hosts try to combat the theft of the gate by all sorts of methods: they close the gate, tie the dog near the gate or simply hide it beforehand. Thieves though take revenge on hosts by throwing sawdust in front of the house, thus they would need to start the day by sweeping the yard. If someone does not find the gate, one must find out who took it, and this person will bring it back in exchange of a ransom. Most of the times this consists of wine.

On the second day of the Easter, “the wetting” tradition takes place. Each girl is wet and greeted through poems for not to fade. Boys do not go “wetting” in the same period of the day. In the morning and at noon the small boys (school boys) walk. Their main purpose is to gather as many eggs as possible, but they also receive money from relatives. These are offered in exchange of a poem and perfume or spray “wetting”. Sometimes boys receive a flower at departure.

Following the small boys, in the afternoon and in the evening the youngsters walk, namely the confirmed boys. They no longer accept red eggs, but only cakes and drinks. Few are those who say poems, accustomed only to ask “Do you receive us for wetting?”

Late in the afternoon towards evening men start going for “wetting” but they only visit relatives and neighbours.

The third day of Easter is no longer considered a holiday and everything is back on track for the rest of the week.


Paşte parta decorata

Grapes Ball

The weariness after the grape harvest was overcome by dancing and entertainment activities afterwards. Nowadays this celebration is held from the grapes bought once fall has come.

Organisers, namely the vineyards supervisors, start preparations for the ball 2-3 weeks prior the event. The first thing they have to do is to search for a pair, namely, for a girl. Some time ago, the vineyards supervisors were young lads who had to join the army, but today every young man who carried out his oath-taking during confirmation may become a supervisor.

From this moment on they gather every evening for dancing and those who were supervisors in the past are now teaching the beginners the dancing steps. This dance is a traditional one and it is presented every year by young men.

Meanwhile, the boys rent the Cultural Centre for the ball organization, a house for dinner purposes, and they raise the necessary amount of money, get the horses and carriages for the parade, whereas the girls purchase ribbons. Participants choose the King of Vineyards whom is usually the oldest of the young men. The girl who is his pair, shall be named the Queen of Vineyards. This couple shall be differentiated from the others by the fact that the ribbon they wear is white.

After setting the date of the ball and after inviting a singer, the event is promoted in all the neighbouring villages, through ads glued in various places. Sooner the invitations are given, the better, thus, a similar ball will not be held in another place, and the more people find out about the event, the more will come.

One day prior the event, the Cultural Centre must be decorated, a structure made of grapes shall be provided on which grapes are fixed and around which young boys and girls shall dance, and they also have to manufacture the three grape crowns. The boys train the horses to get them into the way of the parade for the next day.

On Saturday everybody gathers around the Cultural Centre, the youngsters, as well as those who want to see them.

At noon, boys on horsebacks in Székely costume go after girls. At the girls’ houses, horses are decorated with ribbons and flowers. The boys receive as well the necessary accessories: red ribbon and white stipa on the hat. Only the King of Vineyards wears a coloured stipa. Girls are also dressed in Székely traditional costumes with the specific crown on their head (named “párta”), the Queen of Vineyards having as well a white ribbon.

In front of the Cultural Centre, photos are taken and a rehearsal is performed to remember one last time the dance before the parade, and afterwards, the villagers can watch them easefully. Then, they start the parade. While singing, young people get through all the alleys of the village and the neighbouring villages. From time to time, the procession is stopped to serve food and drinks offered by the locals. The parade is formed like this: in front there goes the King, followed by the other young men with their mates on horsebacks, in the middle of the row there are the girls and a carriage with singers, and in the back there are boys riding horses.

The purpose of the parade is to call as many people as possible to the ball and in the case of those refusing to go, the purpose is to attract them and make them fancy fun and joy. That is why they shout at people from gate to gate and to those watching the procession: “Come to the Ball. You are welcomed to the Ball!

After the parade, the boys take back the horses and gather themselves at the rented house to have dinner, where parents wait for them with warm meals for which the girls have gathered everything that was necessary and prepared beforehand.

During dinner, the Ball starts without the young people, who are called on stage only around 11 p.m., after people has already gathered. Before the ball, the 7 commandments of the Grapes Ball are read. But before any laws or commandments there always appear the thieves. They must be caught by the young people of the parade and if their capture is a success, then they must pay a fine. Once the Ball continues, the price for grapes diminishes being announced by the King of Vineyards. Meanwhile the two grape crowns are awarded by drawing lots which have a litre of wine in the middle and they auction the third crown together with a bottle of champagne, the starting bid being decided by the youngsters of the parade. Early in the morning the price for grapes falls so much that they are offered for free.

After everyone has left, the young people in the procession have breakfast together and then they return home. In the evening they meet again to continue the party and the rest of the money is split between boys.

The purpose of the Grapes Ball is, on one hand the initiation of young people, taking into consideration that long time ago only the boys who had to join the army were allowed to take part a single time in the parade, whereas nowadays they can assume this role several times, both the girls and the boys. On the other hand, the organization of the ball is the first coming-out of young people as adults and their assertion of affiliation to the community. A well-organized ball, which is not at all an easy task, stands for a long time in the living memory of the locals.



Balul strugurilor

Christmas and Christmas Ball

The greatest and most loved celebration and holiday of the year is Christmas Holiday.

On Christmas Saturday, in the church, primary school children prepare a festivity following the religious ceremony, by singing and reciting lyrics around the decorated Christmas tree.

After night falling, the walking to Bethlehem starts, which is one of the most famous and widespread customs nowadays. In the centre of popular Bethlehem stands the play performed by songs and rhymes recited by Bethlehem shepherds.

Another tradition related to the evening before Christmas is Christmas Caroling. Carol singers go from house to house in groups saying thanks, good wishes and singing carols in the spirit of this special holiday.

On the first day of Christmas, it is common to organize a traditional ball on this occasion.