Unusual Romanian Fairs

When people visit other countries they want to see something different. It is what makes their journey worth to be mentioned when they go back home. When I thought of something special to tell you about, I thought about the many unusual Romanian fairs that take place every year, such as the Girls’ Fair on the Gaina Mountains or the Kissing Fair from H?lmagiu.

Looking for a husband…

The Gaina Mountains, within the Western range of the Carpathians, are the perfect place for an important encounter: girls willing to get married meet their future husbands and they live happily ever after. Indeed, they say that a union made on this mountain is blessed and the happy couple will have a long life together. This is the image that every foreigner might have if they take part to this fair. It is not, however, as shallow as you might think. The aim of the fair is to preserve traditions, to present young people a pleasant way of keeping in touch with their ancestors and their manner of handling things. Therefore, the fair takes you back to hundreds of years ago, when a young girl would start preparing her dowry several years before marriage age. When the time came, she would gather everything she worked at, and, along with parents and friends, would go to the fair and hope that a nice, respectable young man would choose her to be his wife. After the boy chose a girl, both families would start partying and hope for the best for their children. Such pastoral event gives you the chance to admire traditional clothing and objects, all of them handmade, beautiful Romanian girls and also traditional Romanian songs and dancing.

Let there be kissing …

On Saint Theodor’s Day (San Toader) there is a great holiday in H?lmagiu, a village found near the river Crisul Alb, at the feet of Mountain Gaina.  Early in the morning, young wives from the villages nearby, dressed in their finest clothes and wearing their bridal wreaths, gather in H?lmagiu. They don’t come alone; they are accompanied either by their mother-in-laws, father-in-laws or husbands. Once they get to the fair, the young wives start walking and if they see someone they know, they go to him and kiss him. Whoever gets kissed by a young wife is said to be an important and respected man. Those who are kissed honor the wife with money or something else while the wife also gives them something to drink. If a wife is refused, she feels most embarrassed so that they never kiss someone until they are sure they won’t be refused. Though you might be tempted to think that such an event might be just an excuse to go random kissing, you should know that no such thing happens. The fair is really nice; certain limits are respected, so people who are there just have fun and party with other people. They say that the origins of this fair date back from the middle ages when a group of Tartars kidnapped the girls from this village; they managed to escape and when they returned home, they were so happy that they kissed whoever crossed their way, villagers honoring them for their courage and strength.

Maybe this article about unusual Romanian fairs stirred you curiosity and imagination. I can only hope that this is the case and you will be there to enjoy the next edition of any of these fairs.

Leave a Reply