Life in the Countryside

People from Sibiu`s villages once wore traditional clothes every single day, while working or feasting. Today, traditional clothes, which have become Romanian folk costume, are increasingly valued as festive garments: in villages or towns, the baby wears them on his/her baptism day, the bride and groom - during their wedding, and, inside many churches, one can see women proudly wearing woven blouses while attending religious service.

Here, in Sibiu, childhood still means playing old-time games like Hand slap, Hide-and-seek, Catch, Nine men’s Mill (using peas and corn), playing with dolls made of corn leaves, with dandelion crowns or playing the shepherd`s pipe.

Becoming adult is still connected to the village dance, because the old-time rules are in use: the girls must have “graduated the first eight classes” in order to be invited to the parties organised during the winter holidays; the boys must have a growing moustache in order to enter the Lads` Group.

Love stories begin during young people’s parties and evening walks; the couples are always known, because youth and elders meet during customs and social events practiced by the whole community.

Wedding time brings deep emotions, felt before by so many generations of people. The first step is made when the lad and his parents come to ask for the girl’s hand in marriage; then, the girl and her family are in a frenzy of preparations. The “bargain” of old times is less and less common, but the sequence of the wedding invitation is kept, so in the villages from Mărginimea Sibiului traditional invitations are orally addressed to the guests by friends or relatives of the groom and the bride.

There is uproar during the wedding week, because in many villages people still hire a cook for the wedding feast and the wedding aid is practiced: women bring milk, cream, eggs, chickens, oil and flour to the groom`s or bride`s houses, and are being offered pies and sweetbread.

Lads go after fir trees in the mountains and decorate the gates at the bride and groom’s houses. The wedding flag is adorned by neighbours or elder relatives, who know the order of placing the rags and scarves on a long distaff, once belonging to the bride, now being inherited from the grandmother.

On the wedding day, the preparations start early in the morning, for the bride and the groom, for the godparents, for the bridesmaids and the riding best men. The grooms leave their parents’ homes only after a special forgiveness oration is uttered by “vornic”, the master of ceremony. The wedding procession still crosses the village and the people, stirred by music and shouts, go out to the gate “to see the wedding”. It is customary for villagers to tie the road with ropes, over which woven carpets are placed, and the godfather or groom must pay for “the road to be opened”. All along the way, women utter specific rhymes that praise or mock the mother-in-laws, the godfather and the godmother, the bride and the groom.

The money offered as wedding gifts are still put inside a bucket or woven bag; the party heats up the day after the wedding, too, when relatives and close friends of the newlyweds meet again.

Everyday life in the villages of Sibiu has the calm and restlessness of the past. Under the warm rays of the spring sun people cultivate potatoes and work the vineyard; on hot summer days, people carrying hoes on their shoulders head to the gardens or to the corn crops, hoping to have a rich harvest in autumn.

Work stops only on holidays, when children, adults and the elderly wearing folk costumes go to church; in the afternoon, women and men hang out at the gates, while young people spend time at the village dance.