In Maramures, people turn even the saddest events into occasions for irony and humor. They go so far as to mock Death in verse, creating the only “merry cemetery” in the world. The locals’ zest for life matches the beauty and richness of their surroundings. Every Sunday is an occasion for donning the traditional costume, which looks the same as it did hundreds of years ago. On feast days, lavish ceremonies are organized, where song and dance entertain and engage all those in attendance, locals and visitors alike. Anyone who visits these places soon finds a friend among the old folks chatting at the gate or among the farmers working in the fields because all of them have learned that hospitality is priceless, irrespective of how little wealth one has.
Maramures and the wood art craft:
For many foreign travelers, the magical civilization of wood in Maramures is represented mainly by three elements: the church, the gate, and the wayside cross.
The tourists visiting Maramures cannot but admire the monumental wooden gates of the traditional homesteads which are found especially in the Mara, Cosău, or Iza valleys, and also in some villages of the Lăpuş Land. Generally made of oak wood, the gates of this region have often been compared to real “triumphal arches” through which the peasants used to pass with dignity, proud of their noble origin. For the Maramures peasant, the passage through the house gate used to be like a ceremonial act, a mental purification from the evils of the profane world so that to step cleansed into the domestic universe of the household and family.
Presentation video of Maramures
The construction, the carving of the decorative elements, and the passage through the gate had to respect particular rituals based upon a deep faith (with mythical rather than religious connotations).
– The cutting of the oak tree had to be on a night with full moon – in order to keep away any misfortune and all the “evil hours” from around the homestead.
– The transportation of the timber from the forest had to be done on one of the weekdays when people did not fast.
They used to put the threshold beam “money, holy water, and incense so that the black plague should not come close”. And for the protection of their fortune and house, anthropomorphic figures were carved on the posts.
Wooden churches of Maramures