Religious Tradition – Romania

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Caucasian
Age: 25
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 19, 2008
Primary Language: Rumanian
Other Language(s): French, English, Spanish, Swedish

Feast of the Assumption

A major religious event takes place annually on August 15 near the Maramures village of Moisei. Villagers from around the county make pilgrimages to Moisei’s monastery for the Feast of the Assumption. Walking in village groups, sometimes for two days or more, the worshipers carry crosses and holy pictures. The majority of walkers are children and young people. In a scene reminiscent of first Communion, little girls wear pretty white dresses with white flowers, headbands or ribbons adorning their hair.

After leaving the main road, the procession continues another mile and a half up a moderately steep dirt and rock road before reaching the spacious grounds of the monastery. Most groups arrive on the 14th, so the grass is covered with clusters of people who have spread blankets out and are enjoying the chance to socialize and catch up on news from neighboring villages. Some gather in a long open-fronted shelter which has been set up for the pilgrims. Many, especially the elderly, kneel in prayer before various icons set up around the grounds. Others worship in a small wooden church, typical of the region, dating to 1672 or in a larger, modern church nearby. On the 15th, priests lead special services for the thousands who have gathered in the wooded setting.

The Feast of the Assumption celebrates the Virgin Mary assumption into heaven. Mary is considered to be pure which explains why little girls are dressed up in white dresses and the flowers in their hair. It also no coincidence that the procession ends at the top of a hill which could be assumed to be closer to Heaven.