Romania Ethnology and Folklore – Germans

By | December 23, 2021

The German element in Romania is gathered in a compact linguistic island, which includes villages and cities. Numerically, the strongest group is formed by the Banat Saxons, established there in the century. XVIII, coming from the upper and middle Rhine, the Saar, Alsace, Württemberg and Baden. Immediately after, it would be necessary to place the Saxons of Transylvania, who became Transylvanians in the 12th and 13th centuries. The flow of immigration poured from all parts of Germany, but above all from Flanders and the territories of the Rhine and Moselle. Then came the Satmaris Saxons (18th century), the Germans from Bucovina (18th and 19th centuries) and the Germans from Bessarabia (19th century), Dobruja (19th century) and those who came from Austria to Transylvania (18th century)). For Romania 2012, please check

The Transylvanian Saxons are divided into three distinct territories: the country of the Nosni in the north, the main district (old country) in the southwest and Burzenland in the southeast. Their dialect is similar to that of Moselle and Franconia. Characteristic are the villages clustered around the streets and the garden courtyards, as in Franconia, with the separate dwelling and farm buildings. The dwelling house is almost always narrow and with the front facing the street. Through an atrium with a pergola, one reaches the “house”, the middle room, where the hearth is. From here there are two rooms, one on the right and one on the left. The systems of agglomeration and construction of the Transylvanian Saxons had a lasting influence on the neighboring peoples of different languages ​​(Romanians and Hungarians). Also noteworthy are the medieval parish churches, which give the landscape a characteristic aspect, since they appear as real fortresses of the peasants of the era of the Turkish and Mongolian assaults. The Transylvanian German cities also show a medieval imprint, in which the close cultural union between these Saxons and the motherland is evident. The same phenomenon is repeated for the costumes, which in many cases show German forms of the century. XIII and XIV alongside Hungarian elements, for example, the German cloak of women, the concept of the veiled head in the married woman, the chevrons as a mark of the virgins, the girdles with metal clasps and the large buckles made of round plates with interlocking precious stones and worn on the chest. The Saxon peasants of Transylvania appear active and sociable and have a

In the brotherhoods all the young bachelors gather, who are all together called “servants” of the village. They have their own laws, which no doubt have been heavily influenced by the guilds. The brotherhoods pay great attention to the behavior of their members on the usual holidays, and they demand a lot of discipline. The associations of married people have the purpose of helping each other in need and danger and are also regulated by well-defined rules. Customs and traditions often reveal ancient German ethnic elements, and in folk art the beautiful embroideries of Saxon women and the rustic-type pottery are especially noteworthy; and in the latter the resemblance to the Hungarian ones, and also to the Romanian ones, is very great. Almost all of the Transylvanian Saxons belong to Protestantism,

Other nationalities. – Of all those who belong to other nationalities, if we want to disregard the Turks, the Gypsies are the most notable for the greater number and for their distribution in colonies and villages. They are Gypsies domiciled in their own neighborhoods built in Saxon or Romanian villages; they find employment as kilnsmen, or in manual trades or as musicians. Their nationality is gradually assimilated by the Romanians. Far more tenaciously attached to the old institutions and old customs are the nomadic Gypsies, who live in tents and still meet in Romania in relatively large numbers. There is some contrast between them and the sedentary Gypsies, who do not want to be considered similar to them. Greeks and Armenians are masters above all of trade and, like the Jews,

The Bulgarians have confined themselves to a single linguistic island in Banat, but they have also come to some importance in other parts of Romania as horticulturists. Their water wheels are characteristic, with the help of which they irrigate the vegetable fields in the summer. The Turks are in greater number in Dobruja, and in Ada Kaleh (Island of the Turks on the Danube, near the Iron Gate). Also interesting is the Russian Lipovan race, a Russian mystical sect, which settled in Bucovina and on the Danube delta among foreign peoples. On the Danube there are active and intrepid fishermen : the costume of the strong and bearded men recalls the Russian folk costume in the shirt, trousers and boots, as well as the women’s bonnet. Their main food is fish and corn bread. The Serbs, Ukrainians and Poles among the minor elements of the populations of Romania should be remembered.

Romania Ethnology and Folklore