Muzeul Judeţean de Istorie şi Artă Zalău County Museum of History and Art, Zalău
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3-4 / 2011
Magical valences and religious context in the performance of traditional celebration.
The „Sangiorz”, the time for „strigoi” and „sheep mating”
– Practices and customs in Salaj County villages –
The vast paradigm of practices and customs – many of them with a ritual component – within the greatest celebrations in the world of the Romanian traditional village support the conclusion that in the traditional community, celebration – beyond its sacred-temporal side – is not just a welcome and necessary communion with sacredness but also a well met break for replenishing the power for working and an environment for discovering secrets, for making predictions and for fulfilling wishes.
The initial periods of preparation, purification are eventually transformed under the influence of Christianity into long fasting which precedes most holydays, temporal sequences to which all community members partake in the hope of fulfillment of all wishes.
It is this framework one must refer to for the celebration of the Sangiorz – one of the greatest celebrations in the Christian calendar.
In the archaic memory, Saint „Gheorghe” was the god of vegetation, protector of horses and cows and of crops. He would watch over the nature. He was a brother of Saint „Dumitru” with wich he would share the year in two:” the pastoral summer and the pastoral winter”. They both own huge keys, which they use to lock away seasons: the „Sangeorz” locks winter and unlocks summer on April 23 and the „Sanmedru” locks summer and brings winter on October 26.
Over this masculine idea, full of vitality, the Christian calendar overlapped Saint „Gheorghe”’s image – the victory bearer for the martyrdom under Diocletian’s ruling.
For the calendar of the Romanian peasant, overlapped by sequences of supernatural apparitions, the celebration of Saint ”Ghorghe” and especially its eve, condense a time saturated by magic-ritual representations: this is the time the „live fire” is lit, this is when people and animals are purified by crossing through smoke and fire, people are sprinkled with dew from plants or washed with clean water, acts of wizardry are performed, houses are decorated with green leaves or protected against the „strigoi” with lovage or garlic and one can open the skies and find the burning treasures within.
All these performances are possible because the time for celebration is a special one, which allows the enactment of magic-ritual scenarios with effects spreading across the year, to the next celebration.
Keywords: traditional community, archaic memory, magic-ritual representations, magic-ritual scenarios, live fire;
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