Tag Archives: Maramures

So much boot slapping, so many gorgeous clothes: traditional dance and music in Northern Transylvania

Remember that one day we were in Hoteni, way up North in Maramures, Transylvania in the midst of a spring festival dating back to the Roman era?  That was a superlative day, a day we spent pressed up next to a small stage watching traditional Romanian music, dance and song. I attend a lot of […]

Drinking Pálinka: how to find the moonshine makers of Northern Romania

They call it Pálinka, horinca, or brandy.  I call it moonshine.  Whatever you call it, people are making it all over Maramureș. Here’s how to find the hooch: first walk around until you smell wood smoke.  Follow the smell to a house with a smoking chimney. Are there buckets of fermenting apples near the house’s […]

The spiritual warmth of Deseşti and the wooden churches of Maramureş

So I have this thing about sacred art and architecture.  And in all my travels to see religious art in situ, I’ve never experienced sacred spaces as unique as the wooden Churches of Maramureş in Northern Transylvania.  During 1000 or so years Hungarians ruled Maramureş, they forbid the Orthodox Romanians from building churches in stone.  As a delightful result, a distinct style of […]

The Merry Cemetery of Sarpanta, where death does not deprive you of the dignity of ordinary life, a first-rate portrait and complaints about your mother-in-law

I don’t like to talk about it, but there was a dark time in my life.  I mean, I’m not ashamed exactly–it’s not like I was beating puppies or something.  The truth is, I was portrait painter.  An earnest, hard-working, spectacularly unsuccessful portrait painter.  No need to cue what my grandma called “the world’s smallest violin playing the […]

Immersed in the traditional culture of Maramureș

Traditional culture is thriving in Maramureș, to the point where it felt at times as if we had slipped back a few centuries. The culture is alive, though, not some kind of faux-bucolic Marie Antoinette village. Villagers driving horses on wooden carts and working the land entirely without machines use cell phones. Grampa may not […]

Overjoyed and overstimulated at the Hoteni Festival in Maramureș

We’re in Maramureș, Northern Romania, close to the border of Ukraine.  I need to go to sleep, but I’m overstimulated by the memories of the dancing and singing from today’s Hoteni Festival.  The festival is a sort of agrarian fertility rite, a celebration of the first man to plough his field. The man is brought in […]