Thursday, May 12, 2005

Peregri Nation

Csikszereda is slowly filling up. I just popped over the road to by some lunch and there are tons of people out there. There's music playing in the square behind me too. It's all very festive and uncsikszereda-like. What, you may be wondering, is going on?

Every year at a time decreed in the Roman Catholic calendar as Pentecost (what does that mean? five fruits and veg?) or possibly Whitsun (and that?), which may or may not be exactly the same thing, I couldn't possibly tell you, Catholics from all over Romania and Hungary converge on Csiksomlyo (the next-door village, effectively a suburb of Csikszereda) for an annual pilgrimage. This weekend is that weekend, and so here they are. Apparently there are normally between 3 and 4 hundred thousand of them for this event, which for a town of 40,000 seriously stretches the resources. I have, in my role as cultural consultant to everyone who bothers to read this, been doing a little research as to why they all come.

Apparently, there is a statue of the virgin Mary in the church at Csiksomlyo (I wish I could tell what the town's name is in Romanian, but I have no idea), which has resisted a lot of stuff. When the Tartars (the blokes who invented that sauce you have with fish) sacked Szekelyland a long time ago, people prayed to this statue, which despite the carnage was left unharmed (this doesn't sound particularly admirable I have to say - a statue with supposedly mythical powers elects to save itself rather than the people who prayed to it). Then after all the battle was over it was seen to cry. They always cry don't they, these religious icons? If they're so bloody amazing why don't they do something useful like fill everybody's heart with love and pacifism or something. I mean, really, what use is crying? Bloody typical.

Still, despite the weak-arsed response to their pleas, people from all over have come to visit and kiss and lay their troubles at it's feet for centuries (no doubt hoping that if it hears of enough suffering it might deign to shed yet another miraculous tear).

In case you really want to read something less sneering here are a couple of articles: I was dead excited about this whole deal until very recently, when I discovered that the festival, far from being a celebration of life with hordes of revellers taking over the town for a weekend and partying all night, actually involves people praying non-stop from Friday to Sunday. And that's it. A festival of 400,000 people who just spend the weekend being very Christian. Sounds miserable.

And that music I can hear? It's not even part of the pilgrimage. It's the last day of the Harghita County "Days", which celebrates, errrm, Harghita County I guess. We went to a concert the other day which was part of it, and at which I encountered the other Brit in Csikszereda(TM), who seems nice enough despite attempting to take over my patch.


Solyom said...


1) Let's hear some more Csango stories. Please.

2) WTF are you doing in Transylvania - a nagy rengetegben?

Anonymous said...

Your description is not only inaccurate, but totally idiotic and disrespectful. You throw some superficial stories in there, totally taken out of context, and try to make it look like you actually did some "research". The only time you are right is when you admit it that you don't know what the name Csíksomlyó means in Romanian. It doesn't mean anything, because it's in Hungarian.
Your whole posting is pathetic, to say the least. You don't need to be religious to be respectful, there are plenty of things that are wrong with religion, any religion for that matter, but if you have no knowledge of a topic, it's probably better if you:
1. Research it, before you claim that you know something about it.
2. Stay out of it, and don't make yourself look like a fool.

I spent 4 years in that area, and I can tell you that the pilgrimage is nothing like your description of it.

Don't bother to respond to this, I'm never going to read it.

Andy H said...

This is my favourite comment ever. If anyone else happens upon it, I hope they enjoy it as much as I have. Thank you anonymous!

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