Cheesefare Sunday

The evening of Cheesefare Sunday is related to numerous traditions. The Great Lent is an important moment in the life of Oltenia residents. Selected dishes are put on the table in the presence of all family members, as the table is not cleared until the next day when the remains of the food are thrown in the garden for rich harvest and the dishes are washed in running water or under the tap, with a solution of home-made soap, to be clean.

Another custom is the cries of children having gathered at the hills, who whispered the sins of the community – thefts, adulteries, etc., without anyone being angry about that or judging.  It was a practical way for a moral education of the community. In some villages on the Cheesefare Sunday cries used to be made in the copper tube of the cauldron for making rakia, which is as big as a bucium (a type of alpine horn), with which people used to ridicule the shortcomings of the unmarried lasses, of the married lads and even of some elder villagers. Two groups of 4 or 5 youths each, each of which with a tube like that, used to climb the crest of the hills. At nightfall they used to make a fire with dry branches brought earlier and when the silence of the night fell over the village, one of the boys from the first group started to cry in the tube, which amplified his voice, after which the youths from the other group answered him.

Also, the neighhbours used to cry in the evening, wishing prosperity to themselves and losses to the others: „My hens – layers, and yours – cacklers! May I collect with a basket, and you – with a handful!”

„Rolling the rags“ is a pre-Christian custom, which aims at chasing the evil spirits. At the end of a long stick cherry bark is tied in the shape of a doll (a rag-doll), and in the evening, when it is dark, lads and lasses gather together on the hills, burn „the rags” and cry in order to chase the evil spirits. The elderly people gather with rakes the remains of straw in the gardens and burn them at night to scare the ghosts. In some regions, people make wheels from straw, set them on fire and let them roll down the coast to the water. The symbolism of this custom is related to the purifying power of fire.

The night of the Cheesefare Sunday, on the eve of the Great Lent, is a time for predictions and love spells. The lasses who want to see their future husband at that night go with lit candles to running water and in unbroken silence throw garlic and beans in the water, after that they bow over the water with the candle and see the face of the one whom they are going to marry. At that night the witches cut hazelbush branches, with which they can make charms and spells to the people in love. With the help of the stick the enchanted lad used to fly to his beloved. At the same night one can tell fortunes by beans in the following way:  a circle is drawn on the ground with a charcoal and a girl throws, from a distance, ten beans and depending on that how many grains have got into the circle and how many are out, one can foretell whether this love would be happy or unhappy.

Sources: Elisabeta Preotescu, Ion Marica și Constantin Mănescu, Logrești Moșteni – pagini de monografie; Haralambie Bodescu, Universul imaginar-simbolic al folclorului din zona Amaradiei de Sus;