Muzeul Judeţean de Istorie şi Artă Zalău County Museum of History and Art, Zalău
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5 / 2011
Whitsunday: „bless these fields, Our Lord …”
– practices and customs within Salaj County villages –
Celebration of yearly events or life passage has been possible in the traditional Romanian village in the framework of development of that certain collective belief generically known as cosmic Christianity. The celebration of Whitsunday is a very important one and the days and weeks between Easter and Whitsunday used to have a very strong significance for the Romanian village at the end of the XIX th century. These were thought to be more special than other days within the year as they were holier and could have had a good or bad influence over people and their belongings.
On Whitsunday, the priest casts holy water onto the fields towards the four horizons, under the shape of the cross, then he blesses, one by one, all the Christians while they bow to the Saint Mary icon. This scenario of blessing the fields for Whitsunday is a complex one, and it engages magical ritual components along with religious ones.
For the traditional community, the village boundary – especially crop fields – used to have a special importance as agriculture was the main subsistence source for the peasant. That is why maintenance of fields in a fertile state was essential and the celebration of Whitsunday – with its social component of protection of the boundaries and fields – can be looked upon from a common level with the John Baptist’s blessing of the gardens and with the first day of plowing. This level has as a foundation the symbolic health of fertile crops.
Keywords: traditional community, cosmic Christianity, magic-ritual representations, magic-ritual scenarios, holy water, fields, symbolic health
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