In most localities of the Iron Gates Natural Park there are annual traditional manifestations related to different religious or secular events:
a) Martisor Ball – Ilovita, February 28th;
b) The Ball of Turks – Belobresca, Svinita, February 27th, Sichevita, March 2nd;
c) The Ball of Underpants – Ilovita, February 28th;
d) The Sons of the Village – Ilovita, last Sunday in July;
e) The Festival of Figs – Svinita;
f) The Festival of Danube Villages – Svinita, 1-2 May;
g) The Sport Festival – Svinita, 1-2 May;
h) The Minorities’ Music Festival – Svinita, August;
i) The Liubcova School Day – Liubcova, September;
j) The Minorities’ Festival – Bigar;
k) Competition of puppet theatre for children – Belobresca;
l) The Nedei, which have different organization dates for each community and are linked to the titular saint of the church.
1. MOLDOVA NOUĂ – Cumăcitu
The tradition is held on the first Monday after Easter and consists in choosing friends in odd number, usually 3 or 5 children whom they will fraternize with to old age. The girls call each other << cumace >> and the boys << pote >>. A willow crown is prepared and children go or come at each other depending on the previous year (the one who was at the “pota” or “cumacea” is waiting the other one at home this time). Each will choose a gift with him/her in addition to the red eggs they will bring. Home, under a tree, they spin 3 times singing a special song and exchanging the gifts introduced through the crown and they kiss through the crown. In the end, the mothers break this crown, throwing it up on a tree, which indicates raising children as big and healthy as possible.
2. POJEJENA – The prayer or nedeia is the feast when the people of the Banat village celebrate the titular saint of their church. This day is different from one village to another. In Pojejena, the Romanian Orthodox Church was reunited with the Serbian one, but before 1900, because of some misunderstandings, they separated and the Romanian Orthodox Christian Church was established, which celebrated its feasts according to the new calendar. In that time, nedeia was held on the first Thursday after the feast of Pentecost. However, in the 1950s, during the deportations of the inhabitants of Baragan area, it was decided to celebrate the nedeia along with the Pentecost.
Nedeia is the feast that, more than any other feast gathers all the villagers and visitors. On nedeia, most of those who work in other countries or further afield and can not come so often now come home to be close to family.
Since it is a religious holiday, the nedeia does not involve too much local officials, they only help raise funds allocated to the proper conduct of the party that takes locality on the occasion of nedeia. The nedeia lasts from Sunday to Tuesday. Preparations begin well before because people want to be as usually, lots of fun and good cheer, and the inhabitants want to meet their invited and uninvited guests as nice as possible.
Tradition says that before, on the morning of Pentecost, the first day of nedeie, after sweeping the road, the windows of the houses were adorned with blankets woven at home (ponevi) and handmade << perini >> (pillows). At the same time, walnut or linden branches were placed and who wished so even << sown >> a big branch in front of their house. The only thing preserved from this tradition is to place walnut leaves at the windows of the houses.
Another habit that has been lost over time on nedeia was to go to church and to dance dressed in folk costumes. Food and drinks consumed on these days are not given alms, but for the health of the house, animals and for family welfare. The first nedeia day is the Pentecost. On the second day of nedeie, after the church service, the entire community goes along with the priest, with the flags of the church, to sanctify and bless the harvest and the fruits of the field. People go on the field to the crosses located several hundred meters outside the locality. At the same time, people braid a wreath of wheat, which will remain at the big flag of the church for the entire year.
During communism, this habit was forbidden, but after 1990 it was resumed and practiced every year by the Christian community of the locality. Whether or not traditions are respected, nedeia feast is eagerly expected by all villagers, elder or young, girls or boys. Such a feast may not be removed or deleted from the memory and tradition of the village.
3. CĂRBUNARI – The commune’s prayer, yearly on Pentecost, the Fasanc, at Quinquagesima of the Easter fast. No fairs are organized in the commune. The term “farsang” (fasanc – in the Romanian pronunciation) is derived from German and translates into “mask”.
According to certain recent considerations, this habit (profane at first, it became a religious holiday) would have appeared in German and Hungarian Catholic world, extending in the Orthodox area of South Banat, at Romanians and Serbs (there are echoes that at first the fasanc was born in Neolithic in relation to the cult of fecundity and fertility, taken by the Dacians through the rural community). It begins on the first Sunday after Quinquagesima, six weeks before the Easter fast. The “small fasanc” (of the children) occurs that Sunday; “the great fasanc” (of married and unmarried young people, etc.) occurs on Monday and Tuesday. Initially the fasanc lasted for 6 days; today only 3 days (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – at Romanians; Monday, Tuesday, Saturday – at Serbs).
Its meaning is complex, first because through irony, satire, parody one reveals the misdoings of others; the troubles and distress caused by nature in that year; then the chance of bodily and spiritual cleansing (symbolically by tapping with the rod, more recently with a plastic bottle), in the Easter fast, which makes the human to be better, more tolerant, more realistic. In addition, the fasanc is a show, a carnival of costumes and masks, as well as an outdoor play.
4. The Ascension of Jesus Christ into the sky. This holiday is celebrated on the 40th day after Easter, the day after His resurrection when the Lord Jesus ascended. This day is also called the day of Ispas or Horse Easter. The name of Ispas comes from a character who, according to tradition, had witnessed the Ascension. The name Horse Easter comes from the fact that on this day the horses satiate but only for a period limited to one hour. This feast is very important for the Orthodox religion, equally as important as the Easter feast. This day is the last time in the year when people eat red eggs, and the friendly greeting of people when they meet is “Christ ascended!” and the answer received must be “Indeed He ascended!”.
We can also list a few traditions related to this Ispas feast:
- People gird with walnut leaves at their waist, because Jesus Christ did the same when He ascended;
- The cattle are beaten with lovage, not to gain weight;
- On this holy day, people should not give fire and salt out of their house. The folk explanation is simple: people should do not give fire because they will not have huit all year long, or salt, because they cows will not have cream.
- People should not sow after Ispas, because the plant in question will not make fruits.
5. CORONINI – The current name of the commune comes from the count Johann Baptist Coronini-Cronberg, the President of the Imperial Administration of Serbia and Timisan Banat Voivodeship between 1849-1859.
The prayer – July 20th, on St. Elijah’s day. Every year, on July 20th, Christian world honors one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament: Saint Elijah. This Saint was from the land of Tesvi, in Galaad, from where comes his name “the Tesvitean” and was the son of a priest of the old law. The Holy Prophet Elijah was born about 900 years before Jesus Christ, in a tough period of history of the chosen people, when the cult of idols was poisoning people.
Tradition and habit on Saint Elijah’s day:
- People do not work because they fear the damage (lightning strike, rain, hail);
- Combs and honey are taken to the church for blessing and they are given away;
- Medicinal plants are collected at dawn, sprinkled with cock blood cut above them;
- The rams are taken to the ram herder.
If thunders occur on Saint Elijah’s day, apples and hazelnuts will be eaten by worms; if it is raining, it will rain for 20 days.
6. SICHEVITA – The prayer – Being a celebration of the church, the prayer is also an opportunity to give donations to it. Thus, one of the most notable members of the community is appointed each year “the godfather of the prayer”. “The godfather” is appointed by the parish council or offers himself as a volunteer. On the date in question, he offers the church a donation of money or objects of worship. At the religious service of that day he brings a nice, holiday cake. The Godfather’s donation is entered in the registers of the church.
The organization of the prayer’s party (negee) is the responsibility of the “caparasi”. They are typically young men of the village collecting money from each house (or a fixed amount is decided, or each gives away according to their possibilities, but since the people living in Banat are “tiger” men, they want to give as good as one gets). From this money they engage the musicians that will play at the village prayer.
The party itself has different structure from one locality to another. Thus, in some localities the music can be heard after lunch for 4-5 hours, which is the “dance”, followed by a break for dinner, and starting with midnight until morning there comes the “ball”. The next day, they play from the afternoon until evening another “dance”, without the ball. In other localities, the prayer is held on both days with the ball, in others only with the dance. Each community has its own traditions related to the prayer.
7. GIRNIC – Saint Parascheva – On October 14th every year, the Orthodox Church everywhere celebrates Saint Parascheva. In particular way she is honored in Moldova, because for 350 years her relics can be found in Iasi. She is also known by people under the name “Saint Friday” or “The Great Friday”. Parascheva had lived in the first half of the eleventh century. She was born in Epivat (now Boiados) in Thrace, on the Marmara Sea coast, not far from Constantinople (now Istanbul), by then the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
The feast (or “celebration”) is the day on which the Church celebrates a Saint, an event in the history of salvation or holy relics. The feast or celebration is a liturgical and spiritual celebration of the entire church. The commemoration, the celebration, the feast includes the remembrance of the life of the holy celebration through prayers and hymns which are sung at church services, to which the faithful are invited to attend. Sometimes, a feast may be accompanied or preceded by a period of fasting or vigils.
8. BERZASCA – St. Peter and Paul according to the Julian calendar. Macedonians celebrate Holy Apostles Peter and Paul according to the Julian calendar on July 12th. Through their missionary activity, they laid the cornerstone of the church. The Holy Apostle Paul is, after Saint John the Evangelist, the most important writer and thinker of the Apostles. Through his work as a missionary, he released Christianity from the servitude of the Mosaic law and ensured its universal preaching.
- SVINITA – The Festival of Figs. The work starts only after harvest.
It is a real art of the housewives. Every family has its own recipes for jam, brandy and wine. If there are several recipes, then it is clear that one has to see which one is better. Every family protects its own recipe, inherited from generation to generation. After harvest, the figs are dried “as much as they need to be dried.” There is a drying method, but no one told it to us. If you want to make jam, you have to add one kilogram of sugar for two kilograms of fruit. Then a syrup is boiled in parallel, where one puts the fruits of the Earth. One can also add nuts, but not only that. Each fig is pricked with a syringe. Thus a few drops of rum are inserted in the “pulp” of the fruit. If you make brandy, the fruit of the earth are first left to macerate. We also know that the result will be a very strong liquor. As for the wine, you can only taste it, because you do not have a chance merely to “smell” the recipe.
10. DUBOVA – St. George. The Orthodox tradition is that St. George was born in Cappadocia in a Christian family, his father was a Romanian general, and at the age of 30 , St. George became at his turn a general in the army of Diocletian. St. George rose against anti-Christian decisions of the Council at Nicomedia (303), which brought him persecutions from Diocletian. He was tormented in the most horrific ways, poisoned and later beheaded.
“The Measurement of the Sheep”. The Sangiorz Day is dedicated to the beginning of the pastoral season (varatul), to the first milking of the flock of sheep. After numerous practical activities (shutting down the fallow grounds, construction or repair of sheep yards, the weaning of the lambs, sheep and rams shearing) and legal activities (the association of sheep owners for forming the sheep yard, sheep marking, shepherds employment, the payment for grazing etc.). on the “Measurement of the Sheep” one is measuring the milk of the sheep of each sheep keeper, and then the corresponding amount of cheese is calculated, at the breaking of the sheep yard (autumn). At some sheep yards, the priest is invited to bless the flock of sheep. After finishing the milking, specific pastoral dishes are prepared (roast lamb, balmas with polenta, polenta with milk, sausages, boiled brandy, etc.), and the participants engage in discussion accompanied by music and good cheer. Each family holding animals who give milk prepares a round cake, where they put red eggs. Two people of the family (usually kids) “draw the cake” under a cow or a sheep, dividing it in two. During the cake drawing, the first person says “cucu!”, and the second person replies “rascucu!”, and therefore they cancel the power of the cuckoo to take and spoil the milk. Afterwards, with the help of a bur leave soaked in pork fat, the animal is greased, which signifies its purification.
Customs and traditions
- “The Measurement of the Sheep” – the first Saturday of May – Dubova
- “Nedeie” at the feast of Birth of the Virgin, September 8th, Dubova
- “Farsane”, Czech holiday, February, Eibental
- “Saint Varvara”, December 3rd, Baia Noua (The Miner’s Day)
11. ESELNITA – St. Prophet Elijah the Tesvitean. In this month, on the 20th day, one commemorate the fire bearer ascension into the of the Great Prophet Elijah the Tesvitean. Holy and Great Prophet Elijah, this Angel incarnated in flesh who received from God the power to open and close the heavens, was a native of Tesvi in Gilead. Apocryphal tradition, which has forwarded these details about the birth of the Prophet, stated that he came from the tribe of Aron and so he was a priest.
- Eselnita’s Day, 9-10 May
- Children’ s Day on June 1st
- July 20th – St. Prophet Elijah the Tesvitean
- August 15th – Dormition of the Mother of God
- Nedeie on 20-21 of July, 15-16 of August.
12. ILOVIŢA – The Ball of the Underpants. A folk ball is organized on this day and all those who come to the cultural center of the village must necessarily be dressed up with “Oltenian pants” (cioareci). The ball of the Oltenian pants has reached its 10th edition and was taken from Banat, since Ilovita is located in the interference area of Banat with Mehedinti. The organizer and the people that have given rise to this new habit of Mehedinti urge the boys that at every big celebration to dress as did the elders, in order not to lose the tradition.
The ball attended by over 40 pairs dressed in underpants and folk costumes is the true feast of the locals who gather old and young in the center of the village, when the hall of the cultural center is too small. Those present dance and whistle on Oltenian and Banat musical tones until dawn.
13. BREZNIŢA DE OCOL. The Birth of the Virgin, on September 8th, and the Holy Name of Mary, celebrated on September 12th by the Romanian Catholic Church (allusion to the respect due to the Holy Mother and the confidence in the power of the respectful invocation of this name, as a sign of blessing and strength before temptations). The word Mary is generally considered to be originating from the Hebrew language, from Maryam with the variant Miryam, the name of Moses’ older sister.
14. ORSOVA – The Days of Orsova Municipality. Orsova Days are celebrated every year around the day of Saint Mary, the spiritual patron of the locality. The municipality, located at the confluence of the Danube with the Cerna River, currently has about 30,000 inhabitants. The locality is known since ancient times as a Dacian fortress, then a Dacian-Roman fortress, called Colonia Zermensis, and then as a municipality, under the name of Dierna, which was an important tax customs point between Moesia Superior and Dacia.
Cruises are organized on the Danube Gorges and cultural events and competitions will be held and the guest, folk music and light music performers, are great names. The three party days will end with fireworks.
Over ten thousand people are expected to party on the seafront in the centre of the city. “The event” will debut with a youth festival, which will take place in front of the Cultural House. On Gull island the Navy Days will be held, which include the pig catching, the trouble wedding and other sailor games. There will also be a folk music show, with more than 300 participants.