2016 started on a sad note. Godja Pătru Pupăză, a fable like character, passed away on 3 January. He was 81 years old.
I met the artist in the summer of 2009, at his home in Valea Stejarului. Those were very happy times. He was surrounded by his family, his son-in-law was carving a Maramureș cross “troiță”, his nephew was strolling around, at times making attempts to help his father chisel the wooden cross, despite the fact that he had yet to learn to speak.
I am a year late in publishing this material. Today, the 47th edition of the winter festivities, at Sighet, took place. This post is about last year’s edition.
Every year after Christmas, at Sighet, is held the customs and traditions festival, the oldest and most renowned winter festival in Romania. It is the time when the villages of Maramureș send their representatives to dance, play and sing traditional Christmas carols. The festival was born in 1969 when it was decided that, given the rich heritage of winter traditions in Maramureș, a festival should be held annually. While many of the local traditions have a profoundly religious meaning, the festival was born as a non-religious festivity, given that under Communism all religious activities were banned. The name of the festival itself carefully avoided any reference to Christmas. The original name of the festival is preserved until today, even if nowadays overtly religious elements are present, such as the Nativity scene.
This website was meant to be about Maramureș. And yet this post is about traditions coming to Bucharest, which is about 600 km away. I’ve started writing about Maramureș, my home county, because there is the place where traditions still exist, but I am very glad to write about all Romanian traditions, in whatever form and place they survive. As you will read, this was a totally unexpected, unplanned for, and thus an exceptionally rewarding experience and I can consider myself lucky to have had the chance to be around at the right time and place.
I made this interview of Teodor Bârsan in his workshop, back in October 2005. The digital video technique – and especially the one I had in my hands at the time was not the best. But that matters not, as you will still be able to feel who Teodor Bârsan is and how he carves the beautiful things – small and large – that he does. For a small portrait of Bârsan, please also visit this link.