The Burial of Farsang in Transylvania

Farsang Temetes Torocko Rimetea

Last Saturday we attended the Burial of Farsang Carnival in the small village of Rimetea (Torockó in Hungarian), located at the foothills of the Trascău Mountains, in the northern tip of Alba County. This special festivity has been on my Transylvanian bucket list for years! And since we finally got to experience it, I want to share all the details with you about this amazing event which has been going on for hundreds of years. It basically involves devils, clowns, loud swishing sounds and traditional clothes. Curious to know more? Read on: 

Before we get into it, I would really like to succinctly tell you a little bit about this particular Christian tradition. In the past the Farsang period began on the day of Epiphany. This usually fell on the 6th of January, though it depends on the calendar year and the religion. The Farsang lasted until Mardi Gras, generally the middle of February. Since this is one of the coldest times of the year in Transylvania, you can’t really work outside. That’s why this period was governed by a lot of indoor get-togethers which involved plenty of singing, dancing, eating and drinking.

As Mardi Gras approached, so did Spring, when it was time to go back to work again. To commemorate the leisure weeks, the locals came up with a huge carnival-like celebration in which they would bury the Farsang period with one last bonanza. And what a fiesta it is!

Although the Burial of Farsang exists in different villages scattered across Transylvania in which there’s a prominent Hungarian population, the one in Rimetea/Torockó stands out from the rest as one of the more famous ones. Even if in the beginning it was mostly for locals, it gained popularity among the masses in the 1970s, when hoards of tourists and fellow Hungarians gathered for the festivities.

But enough about the history, here’s what the Burial of Farsang looks like in Rimetea:

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

Basically more than half of the event is composed of a huge march. Only young men can partake in the demonstration and all the different clothes you see on them mean that they have different roles. Up first we have three lads in traditional red-and-white wear swishing their whips to make room.

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

 

They are followed closely by at least a couple of musicians who lead the way by singing traditional folk songs. Afterwards come the priest (blue cape) and the clerk (black with sunglasses), who will both have a key role later in the show.

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

After the men of religion comes a bride and groom and then a few other “couples” in various kinds of traditional clothes, a few of them even representing cavalrymen.

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

In the olden days the coffin with Döme in it (a Hungarian name which symbolized the Farsang itself), was pulled by a pack of young boys. Nowadays, however, the cart is led by an adorable little donkey followed closely by a few youngsters who are in mourning and crying. The youngsters dressed as gypsies ask for food supplies from locals (which can be anything from eggs to bacon or bread), so they can prep a big feast together at the end of the ceremony.

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

The march ends with three additional boys in same clothing as the first few lads. They also make room for themselves by whipping their whips.

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

While the boys in the column make their way through all the main streets in the village, you’ll see quite a few masked fellows running around all over the place. Some have pantyhose on their heads to distort their faces and give them a grim look. There’s at least one or two devils with horns whose purpose is to put a line of black soot on everyone’s face by the time the festivities are over and also scare away little children.

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

Other similarly-looking lads will ask for goods from bystanders. Some will go even as far as to stop cars which are passing through the village. He will only let them through if they’ve payed the “road toll”.

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

The clown has a more pleasant task. All he needs to do is paint a heart on the cheek of all the ladies’ faces before the march regathers in the center of the village. Seems pretty easy, right?

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

At the end of the day he got to me too. I think he takes his job very seriously:

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

After the marching boys finish the last remaining street, they once again get together at the heart of the village. Döme in his coffin is lied down in the center for all to see. The priest and the clerk stand above the crowd. They ask the pillars of the march to make some silence, which they easily do with the help of their whips:

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

In a long poem the priest recites the most important happenings the village has seen in the past year in a humorous tone while checking in from time to time with the clerk who vindicates his verses. In the meantime, the participants of the march stand beside the unfortunate Döme‘s coffin in mourning.

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

The ceremony ends with Döme‘s coffin being smashed to pieces. As the lads finish off the coffin, the priest invites everyone for one last jamboree in the form of a big party in the evening. This marks the last  hours of the Farsang period until next year. See you in 2019!

Farsang Temetes Torocko 2018 Rimetea

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Farsang Temetes Torocko Rimetea

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