So, yesterday we went to Gyergyószárhegy, which is a village about an hour north of here to witness the funeral of the Farsang. [Szárhegy, as it is known, is one of those villages that really need you to be careful with your accents - write it as Szarhegy and it becomes "Shit Mountain"]. As you will be aware if you have been reading for a while, Farsang is the Jan 6th - Lent period in which much merriment is to be had (normally because it is too cold to do much but get drunk and have lots of sex as far as I can surmise). While some countries celebrate carnaval by having a four day bacchanalia, others have a single day of general mayhem, and still others (the UK) celebrate in a typically reserved way by making pancakes, here in the villages of Transylvania the period goes on for 6 weeks or more (depending on when Easter is).
But all good things must come to an end, and so it is that farsang (or actually some kind of athropomorphised farsang dummy) is laid to rest in a funeral ceremony on the weekend before Lent kicks off (ie this one). Villagers from all over the county convene on one spot - which changes annually- to perform their mock funeral ceremony, drink palinka (I assume - it certainly seemed like a well lubricated event) and consume large quantities of töltött káposzta (stuffed cabbage). It was all very enjoyable and I thought I would share with you some pictures (all of which can be blown up to a more viewable size by simply clicking on them).
Dancing round the funeral pyre - in the background you can see the castle for which Szárhegy is famous.
The Szentdomokos funeral procession
On-stage funeral. The big bale of straw you can see is actually a bloke dressed as a bale of straw. It was dancing and stuff.
The body of the Farsang is brought to face it's final rites. Sadly you can't see from this picture the fact that it had a carrot and two onions attached to it in a particularly suggestive place.
This is a bull apparently. To me it looked more like a beehive with a pot on its head, but I was assured that it was a bull.
A man is beaten to death for wearing a sheep's skull on top of his head. And rightly so.
The farsang is dead. Until next year, when he will rise, phoenix-like from the ashes.
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