customs in the Apuseni Mountains


Traditions and customs are very much kept alive in Transylvania. This especially in regions where people live close to nature as in the Apuseni Mountains. Old rites survived for centuries. Even a lot of pagan rites did survive. Some were transformed in or adopted as Christian rites. Some of these customs became a local festival, some are limited to the family or a group of people. Some are just part of daily life.

Some of these customs should improve health and prosperity, others are to keep demons wild animals and misfortune away.

Symbols as the sun, the rope, grapes or wine leaves are used in sculptures,...

What can be seen:

Buru: 23 April

On 23 April there is a very strange and very old pagan celebration in Buru. The celebration of “Babaluda” . It’s a fertility (and the beginning of spring)  celebration on the day of the Saint Gheorghe . What exactly happens: 6 young man (young men that didn’t do their military service) from the village are wearing masks or are dressed in a special way. (between these 6 persons they choose for a couple: Babaluda and his wife -so 1 man is dressed as a female-). Babaluda and his wife are completely covered or better dressed with the bark of a cherry tree and leaves and branches of the birch tree.

The other 4: 2 are dressed as soldiers and and protect Babaluda and his wife. 

Babaluda and his wife are bringing luck and fertility, so everybody from the village wants to touch them. But getting luck shouldn’t be be so easy so the 2 soldiers are trying to avoid this. So people pay to touch Babaluda ...

The remaining 2 are completely dressed in black (also painted in the face and hands) and make everybody black in the village. This black paint or color makes that the bad ghosts are leaving the body or mind of the people from the village. At the end of the day about everybody is black in the village.

During the day all the young girls of the village are thrown in the river by Babaluda and his wife (and with help of the rest of the village). This rite means a kind of purification and fertility at the beginning of the year.

This whole thing is now unique and must be very old. 20 years ago this rite was still practiced in more then 70 villages in the Apuseni Mountains.


Rusalia: (50 days after eastern)

Cetatea Veche (Huedin)

Every spring the farm animals are blessed by the priest. Rusali and Sanziene are known in the folk spirit as very nice girls but with negative power. They especially disturbed young adolescents. Rusali also were responsible for diseases and death of animals. Therefore the animals were blessed by the priest.  At mixed farms, cattle, pigs and horses are blessed at the farm. For the shepherds this is different. They come together at a sacred place somewhere in the mountains and the priest is blessing the flocks. It is an impressive spectacle when shepherds from all over the place come with their thousands of sheep. 


Sanziene (24 June)

Sanziene (and Rusali) were in the past a kind of 'elf' a kind of witches (very nice witches). They had negative power and made young adolescents crazy. To protect themselves, the people made crowns from sanziene and throw them on the roof of the house. If the crown remained on the roof, it meant that the house was protected for a year, if the crown came down again, it meant that somebody of that house would die within a year. (see also under Maramures) 


What can we offer:

We can offer you a guided trip during these festivals. We can bring you around in the region, let you participate or let you attend these celebrations or rites. They could be combined with a hiking trip or other trip or a stay at our holiday houses.


There is a movie about the Apuseni Mountains:  




We've included a special page about the Apuseni Mountains:    

click here

Babaluda's wife (Buru)
Babaluda (Buru)
Rusalia in Cetatea Veche (Huedin)
celebration "Avram Iancu" in Marisel
Bucium in Patrahaitesti

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