Holidays and festivals in Maramures
- 13th of April – Palm Sunday traditions
On Palm Sunday, people bring to church blossomed willow branches (matisoare) for priests to bless them. They will be kept by the house beam the whole year. In the same period, in Tara Lapusului takes place Masa Mosilor (the commemoration of the dead); Palm Sunday or Duminica Stalparilor, the most important holiday heralding Easter, commemorates the entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem and also celebrates the people bearing names of flowers.
Ursita is a common custom on Palm Sunday – when girls can find out through different ways if they will get married or not that year. Also on Palm Saunday, a martisor (a type of brooch ornament) worn until that day is hung on a blossomed tree or wild rose branch, while the dowry is taken outside to air it.
- Cate-n flori pe Iza-n sus – Dragomiresti: a folk festival, held on the first Sunday after Easter (Thomas’ Sunday), including dancing, singing and traditional clothes.
- 20th of April 2014 – Orthodox Easter
After purifying their bodies and souls through fasting, people in Maramures celebrate Easter according to tradition: painting eggs, going to Easter service, blessing the traditional cake. This holiday is the perfect occasion to see the locals dressed in traditional costumes on their way to church or around the villages.
- The wetting (Udatoriul) custom in Surdesti – the second day of Easter
Starting the plowing and the first furrow marks, every year, the beginning of a new agricultural cycle; its ceremonial underlines wealth and celebrates the land. The custom is to celebrate the first farmer starting to plow that year.
- 23rd of April – Sanjorzul – on the day celebrating Saint George, households are decorated with bramble and wicker, while in the morning, people wash their faces with dew.
- Tanjaua de pe Mara – Hoteni. An agricultural festival in Hoteni, Sugatag and Harnicesti villages, this brings together the locals dressed traditionally to celebrate the most diligent farmer, the first one to break fresh his field. He is put on a hitch covered in colorful wool carpets, pulled by young men. Pairs of youngsters carry the 12 hitches (traditionally, this is the number of hitches used to put the cattle into oxbows) decorated with branches, flowers, white towels and colorful ribbons.
- Ruptul Sterpelor, also called the Sheep Sambra. The old tradition, followed in all villages of Maramures. At the beginning of May, sheep are divided into flocks and sent to cots in the mountains for the entire summer. Fertile sheep are separated from the sterile – milk is weighted to establish the daily amount of produce the owners need. This tradition is also called Milking the weigh or Measuring the milk.
- Floare mandra de pe Iza – Sieu – a folk festival dedicated to authentic dances, with a contest for children and adults, as well as a folk costume parade.
- 24-25th May – Daffodil Holiday – RepedeaWith the coming of spring, the township of Repedea prides itself with and celebrates the largest daffodil clearing, gathering people from across the country and from abroad.
- The international wedding festival – Vadu Izei. At the beginning of June, an important festival exhibits traditional wedding costumes, folk clothing, as well as songs and dances.
- 8th of June – WhitsunOn Whit Sunday, the believers commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples in Jerusalem, who lived in continuous prayer and communion.
Traditionally, villagers take walnut and linden branches to church, representing the flames of the Holy Spirit, descending upon the disciples. They are then hung by the house gutters or adorn the icons in households. It is said that they protect you from evil and they have miraculous powers to heal deafness. In Maramures, houses, gates and outbuildings are decorated with linden branches. On WhitSunday, two virgin girls weave wheat crowns to decorate church flags. Priests go to the fields to bless the land, protecting it against hail. Wheat grains from the blessed crop are taken home to protect it against lightings and hailstorms.
- Mowing and pie holiday – Mesteacan – Women in Mesteacan village compete in preparing curly pies and making haystacks.Women in Mesteacan compete both in baking curly pies, as well as in more manly activities, such as mowing. As if it wasn’t enough, the competitors also go through an artistic, as well as a general knowledge test.
- Sanziene (Midsummer Day). On the 24th June the summer solstice is celebrated.
Sanzienele or Dragaica, celebrated on the 24th of June, represent a holiday of love and fertility, connected with a series of rituals for health and household wealth, and also to a series of girls’ practices used to find out “the one”, and when they will get married.Midsummer Day is also considered the best moment, in midsummer, to harvest plants for healing and incantations. Thus, on that night, women go and pick up flowers and herbs to be used against diseases and other evils.
Legends say that the “sanziene”, some beautiful girls living in the woods or the fields, gather in a dance and give magic powers to plants. These fairies, celebrated accordingly, bring rich crops, healthy babies to married women, help birds and animal to breed and heal the sick. On the other hand, if people don’t honor them, they get mad and become evil, popularly known as “iele” or “rusalii”.
Ielele are depicted as lunatic maids, very seductive, having magical powers. They are believed to live in the sky, in woods or caves, along riverbeds or at crossroads and they appear at night in the moonlight, rotating in hora dances, in remote places, dancing naked, with their hair down, wearing bells at their feet. The ground they danced on remains burnt and bare. It is believed that on Sanziene night, they gather and dance in the woods, and whoever sees them loses his speech or his mind.
All these rituals are based on some small, yellow flowers, called sanziene, growing in forest clearings, picked up by girls, while young men dance and sing; they then weave them in circles for girls and crosses for boys. These crowns are then placed on gates, windows, staircases, beehives and even on fields, as they are thought to protect the household, bringing luck, health and wealth.
Girls throw these crowns on a roof – the ones that remain there herald a coming marriage – or on the cattle – if they touch a young cow, the girl will marry a young man; otherwise, she will wed an elder.
In order to see “the one”, girls sleep on Sanziene night with a bunch of these flowers under their pillow. Also, if they wear them on their chests or in their hair, married women are said to become more attractive and loving.
On the other hand, the dew washing ritual is performed on Midsummer Day. Dew from plants must be gathered at dawn, in places that haven’t been crossed over, on a white cloth, then soaked in a new pot. The old women who take care of that bring the dew to the village without talking to or greeting anybody. The girls wishing to marry quickly use this dew to wash; also, so are the wives who want to be loved by their husbands and have beautiful, healthy children.
- Celebrating the patron of Barsana Monastery – Barsana. On the 30th of June, celebrating the Holy Apostles, a pilgrimage takes place at Barsana Monastery.
- Celebrating the patron of Dragomiresti Monastery – Dragomiresti. On the 20th of July, on Saint Ilie, there is a pilgrimage at the monastery to worship the miraculous icon there.
- Hay celebrations – it is known that St. Ilie rides through the sky in a chariot of fire and punishes the ones not honoring him – thus, people in Maramures abandon any farming activity for a week and take advantage to get some rest.
- Goulash festival – Ocna Sugatag. Amateur and professional chefs compete in preparing tempting, original goulash recipes; after the tasting, the winner is awarded. The food is of course, accompanied by horinca.
- Customs on St. Mary’s Day – groups of pilgrims, dressed in white head out to monasteries, singing songs dedicated to the Holy Virgin.
- Prislop hora – Prislop Pass, Borsa – a major popular holiday, bringing together ensembles of singers from Maramures, Suceava and Bistrita Nasaud, artisans, all high in the mountains, everything doubled by a feast, at the border between Maramures and Bucovina.
- Cultural Days Roza Rozalina, Rozavlea – Villagers honor their township through authentic folk songs and celebrations.
- Pantru Mandra from Botiza, Botiza. Howlings and dances typical to Maramures can be heard all around. A parade of the best folk costumes wraps up the event that values the traditional and authentic IzaValley.
- Jocul Satului (the village game) – Sugatag village, Breb, Hoteni – at the end of August and beginning of September, three Sundays in a row, one for each village.
- Celebrating the patrons of churches in Ieud – Ieud. On the 8th of September the Birth of the Holy Virgin, the patron of both of the wooden churches in Ieud, is celebrate,. Considered by some researchers the oldest wooden construction in Maramures, the wooden church of Ieud Deal preserves beautiful glass icons and paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries.
- Jocul Satului –Hoteni. In people’s yards, singers get no rest, while young girls and boys dance to exhaustion. After the dance, everybody receives sarmale, pancove (donuts) and horinca.
- Celebrating the patrons of the wooden churches in Desesti and Poienile Izei – Desesti. On the 14th of October Saint Paraschiva is celebrated, patron of both wooden churches.
- Alina-te, dor, alina – Cicarlau – A folklore festival dedicated to authentic music, hosting both renowned singers, as well as debutants. 15 km away from Baia Mare, Cicarlau is famous for the local wine and its folk singers.