After a day of hiking through the Banat Mountain, you should look for an opportunity to spend a “multicultural Banat Evening. There is no other region in the whole Europe where the ethnicities are as “mixed” as in Banat. Here, the 15 ethnic communities live in peace and understanding, each of them trying to get acquainted as possible with the culture and language of the other: Romanian, German, Hungarian, Croatian – Crasovean, Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Roma and the other ethnic groups.
The Festival of the Ethnic Communities from Banat was initiated by the County Centre for the Conservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture Caras-Severin in 2000. It was conceived as an itinerant festival, being organized each year by another ethnic community in Banat, in a location established by the host ethnic group. Therefore, when choosing the touristic package for visiting the Mountainous Banat, it is good to know where and when is this festival taking place. However, you can see your favourite bands at any time; just tick the desired options in advance. You will always see the three distinct moments of the festival: the folk costumes parade of all the participating groups, the song and dance performance of each ensemble and the presentation of a traditional craft or tradition.
Admiring the show presented by each ensemble you shall understand the language and culture of each ethnic group and especially the spirit of Banat. No inhabitant of Banat, regardless of ethnicity, does not consider himself anything else that Banatean, and at the same time, those who leave in other corners of Romania or abroad consider themselves also Banatians, because they were born and raised in Banat. Here in Banat a true multicultural pattern was created, where each ethnic group succeeded harmoniously to preserve its language and culture and, what’s more, each of them is seeking to know the values of the other as well as possible.
The locals, before being Europeans, are Banatians!
You will feel that in Banat, the Romania doina song sounds more alluringly, the ländler is more gracious, the czardas is more dynamic and the kolo more passionate. The folk song of any ethic group has always been at great honour in Banat.
You should have a look at the artistic bands’ folk costumes too and you will recognize immediately their authenticity.
Throughout the Mountainous Banat the culture of each ethnic group influenced the others. You shall see cities-street and villages with houses scattered along a river with only one way forth and one way back.
From the German culture they preserved the alignment of the houses to the street, on rectangular streets and the imprinting of the number and the year of the construction of the house on the „street” wall. The houses starting from the road have gates three times as high as a man, giving the sensation of protecting the families against the curious eye. The traditional yards are paved with brick and stone, for letting the earth breathe, and not by cement, which brings dampness to the houses.
Every stone from the yard of a Banatean has its purpose. From the native Romanians they took the porch (or „cinda”) which is very useful in protecting the rooms against the heat of the summer, and when it rains “you can stay out without getting wet”. All houses have a cellar (podrum) to keep the food and drinks cool. You shall also see some oriental architecture elements. Many houses are plated with coloured ceramic plates containing a traditional motif. At Anina/Sterierdorf and Oravita you shall see at some houses the so-called „spy-windows” with a window pane coming out greatly from the wall. They were intended for the oriental young women of Ottoman origin who were not allowed to leave the house. Protected by the window, they could monitor the life of the community. Later on these windows became „gossipers” because the elderly women in the village were monitoring everything that was happening in that village through these windowpanes. You shall be surprised only by the houses of Gipsies (Roma) in Banat, having a distinct note. This sensation is given by the fact that while all the Banat inhabitants consider the yard a private space, the Gipsies live their life in front of everyone, their house being situated in the back of the garden.
The multiethnic and multicultural Banat comprises mainly the following:
• Germans in the “mountainous” localities: Reşiţa, Anina, Oraviţa, Oţelu Roşu, Bocşa Montană, Sasca Montană, Ciclova Montană, Rusca Montană, Dognecea, Ocna de Fier, Văliug and others.
• Croatian – Craşoveni from 7 villages: Carasova, Lupac, Iabalcea, Nermet, Rafnic, Vodnic and Clocotici;
• Serbians from the Danube shores from 14 villages: Lescovita, Zlatita, Socol, Divici, Şuşca, Belobresca, Radimna, Pojejena, Măceşti, Moldova Veche, Liubcova, Sviniţa, Dubova and Eşelnita.
• Pems/Germans from 3 villages: Gărâna, Brebu Nou and Sadova Veche;
• Pems/Czechs from 7 villages: Gârnic, Ravensca, Saint Helena, Bigar, Eibental, Şumita and Ogradena (included in the Eşelniţa commune);
• Ukrainians from three villages: Copăcele, Zorile and Cornuţel Banat.
German Ethnicity. Watch the band with the name of flower, Enzian (gentian),that has a noble desire to preserve the German folk dances in the Mountainous Banat.
The “Enzian” flower is a flower that can be found both in the Banat region and in Styria (Steiermark), the land of Austria – the place from where most of the German settlers came to the Mountainous Banat area. It is known that there were mainly three great waves of colonization named after the emperor of the period in which they occurred: the Carolian (1718-1740), the Terezian (1744-1772) and the Josephine, starting with 1782. Among the last to arrive are Germans from Bohemia who settled in the Semenic Mountains and formed the villages of Gårna and Brebu Nou in 1827.
A great celebration of the German ethnicity in the Mountainous Banat is “The German Culture’s Decade in the Mountainous Banat” , held in October eery year, which is “a bridge between what already was and what will be in the future,” as Erwin Josef Tigla, the president of the German Democratic Forum in Caraş-Severin always says. The event takes place as a cycle of cultural manifestations of the German ethnicity in this space. It begins with the “Heimat” – the feast of the native land, continues with a Divine Liturgy at the “Saint Mary Monastery on the Rock” in Ciclova Montana and in the other Roman Catholic churches in Resita, Caransebes, Anina-Steierdorf, Bocsa, Oravita, Otelu Rosu. The other events take place both in Banat cities and in the villages of Sasca Montana, Ciclova Montana, Dognecea and Brebu Nou under the “garland” of mutual friendship, mutual respect and understanding: book presentations, painting and photo exhibitions, brass band promenade concerts, dance and music cultural programs, CD and DVD releases and meetings at the “Alexander Tietz” German Library in Resita.
The climax is always the Kirweit (kirchweih, in German) – the feast of the Roman Catholic Church’s saint patron in each locality
Kirweit at Gărâna
Every October 15th is a great feast of St. Theresa de Avila, according to the Western Christian calendar, a holiday of the Germans and Pems who lived or are living in Garana, at an altitude of 1000 meters, near the Semenic Peak. For three days, Garana is full of live, being visited by hundreds of locals and guests from Germany and Austria who returned to see their native places. It is delightful and exciting to see the “picture” of Wolfsberg ( the Wolf’s Hill) celebrating, at Kirweit, as the villagers call the celebration of the village feast dedicated to the church’s patron.
The “kirweit tree” is prepared since Friday evening by young girls and boys in Garana. On Saturday morning, the villagers, dressed in their traditional costumes, go to the Roman Catholic Church dedicated to “Saint Theresa of Avila”, where they attend the Divine Liturgy. After that, walking on the carpet of leaves and under a clear or grey sky, all of them start to the “Crossroads”, from where the “kirweit tree” is taken. The suite goes to the centre of the village, to the village hall, with a brass band in front, with a ripened apple aroma and steaming mulled wine, but especially very cheerful. Here, near the church, the tree is raised – as a symbol of fertility, around which they are playing and dancing.
While the young men are raising the tree, the others are talking and changing impressions, with the joy of reunion on their faces. After the tree is raised, the people head to the feast, and of course with the hat, the scarf, and a bottle of alcohol on top and the raffle. “Ruga” ends with the long-awaited traditional ball. At dawn, the participants retire to their homes or village hostels to spend a day of rest and relaxation in the middle of the wonderful landscapes of Mount Semenic.
Come to Garana on Kirweit to live the feeling of the man who has gone into the wide world for a better life and returned to the place where he spent his youth! Try to find the “meaning” of the words told by an old man: “I have been coming to the Kirweit for 10 years. I’m near the end of my life, I’m not going to quit now. I like it in Germany, but in Garana I feel “at home”. It’s hard to move an old tree with its roots. Even if it seems to start growing there, it shall remain bare without fruits and shall not grow as beautiful as in the native land. “[Tigla I., 2012].
The Crasovean – Croatian Ethnicity. Take a look at the folk costumes of Carasoveans who are members of the Karaševska Zora’s ensemble. The Croatians – Craşoveni have a unique folk costume, rich in flora and isomorphic shapes. Its specificity is given by the black and white contrast, intertwined with a discrete coloration. It is based on the old Croatian costume from Bosnia, where they came from in three waves, starting with 1332. “Whether they fled from the way of the Muslim Turks or the Serbian Orthodox despots, the Craşoveans settled along the Caras Valley and perceived these places as a secure space in relation to their ethnic, language and religious traits.“[Deleanu MM, 1999].
The Crasovean folk costume
1. Necklace and specific hairstyle;
1. Black hat;
The Serbian Ethnicity. Join the dancers of the Serbian dances from the “Infratirea” ensemble from Moldova Noua, led by Sava Constantinovich, and learn the “Banat Sarba dance”:
This is the Serbians’ Sarba dance
This is the elders’ Sarba dance
With the Serbians throughout Banat’/ everybody sings and dances.
The home feast celebrated by the Serbians on the Danube Shore
In the Serbian villages on the Danube Shore, each house has its saint whom they feast every year. This very old custom, specific to the Serbian ethnics, is known as “wake” or svetac (svetat / saint), both terms are of Slavic origin and have penetrated into Romanian with the meaning of: celebration, saint. Preparations for the feast begin beforehand to ensure all that is needed for this day: food, drinks and ceremony (red wine, incense, special holiday roll, etc.). The entire ritual and meal are organised imperatively in the guest room, that is, in the largest and most beautiful room in the house, where the icon of the holy protector is hung on the eastern wall. In the past, the feast lasted for three days: the first day for the sanctification of the house, the second for the holy feast and the health of the family, and the third for the dead of the family.
Czech Ethnicity. If you prefer the programme of the “Boema” ensemble from Gârnic, you can participate in the Fasang ball of the Pems-Czechs, living in the six localities of the southern part of the Mountainous Banat. They came to Banat in 1823 in two waves of settlers aspiring to a better life. The first wave (1823-1825) came by wagons and on foot through the Hungarian steppe, and the second wave (1826-1830) came by boat from Vienna to Baziaş.
The Mardi-Gras / Făşang at Gârnic
The Mardi-Gras / Făşang is a carnival feast that almost all the ethnic groups from Banat are celebrating at the beginning of the Lent. It is the period of the struggle between the seasons: winter does not want to leave; spring has not enough power to come. The feast has also common elements in all the villages, but there are however some differences too. It lasts for at least two days, Sunday and Monday, on the “Mardi-Gras”. That is why, at Gârnic and in all the other Czech villages it is also called Masopust, the quitting of meat. The procession with masks will stride throughout the entire village with the brass band in front of them. You will see: the bear’s mask, the monkey’s mask, the mask of the horns and the brenta.
The feast ends with the Fasang ball. A masquerade ball is held in the German and Hungarian ethnic groups. The Germans organise the “Noodles Festival” on the first day, and “The Feast of the Doughnuts” on the last day. The natives hold the ball “with some mocking rhymes.”
The Ukrainian Ethnicity. Ukrainian woodcutters came and founded their households in the three villages of the Mountainous Banat between 1906 and 1910. For a century they have preserved their spiritual culture according to the old style. Their habits are promoted by the cultural group “Alunul Verde” of Copăcele and those from Cornuţel Banat and Zorile.
Viflaem – the church carol from Cornuţel Banat
A group of carollers passes from house to house during the whole night of Christmas Eve, while each households serves fasting food: fasting stuffed cabbage, mushrooms, cooked potatoes, boiled wheat and stewed berries.
The Rroma Ethnicity. The Gypsies from the Mountainous Banat have come from very far, some say from India, others from Egypt. They always carry their past with them as if it were always present with them, just like the message in the songs of the “Golden Pigeons” band from Oraviţa says:
Forge the metal, forge it strong,
Poor in all and with heart in silence,
The Hungarian Ethnicity. Through the Cultural Association “Platanus”, the Hungarian ethnic group organizes the Farsang Ball with a procession of masks every spring, respectively the Grapes Ball in every autumn. After participating at the “festival of the ethnicities “, you will surely say as tourists: It is good that you remained in Banat, so that we have where to return to!