Romanian Traditions of Hay
The peasants live a hardworking life, without modern technology or machines. They plow their fields with horses, and still pull weeds out by hand. Moreover, they try to avoid nasty chemically grown products as much as possible.
Buying a horse can cost between $1500-$2000 and even higher. Owning a horse is more important than a car, for it is used to carry food, logs, hay, tools and the family.
These people are always occupied during summer. Not only do they grow their own food, but they also build up an animal food supply for winter. In the past, they used to sleep on hay mattresses.
It brings bad luck to begin scything on Tuesday. The men wake up at 5 am and go scythe the grass. In their bags, they take some bacon, onion and cheese. Hey is traditionally mown early in the morning, while the dew is still on the grass. Before, they were sharping the blade with a rock, that they used to store in a holder, which was hung on their belts.
Later, the women join in with warm food. Their duty is to spread out the grass with a hay rake. When the hay is completely dried, it is loaded onto the horse-drawn wagons, transported home and deposited in the barns.
Hundreds of haystacks are built outdoors, on properties and in fields. They stay outdoors until late winter, when there’s a need for a stack at the farm.
Traditional Superstitions And Beliefs Involving Hay
- July 20 – Saint Ilie Day (Santilie) In the traditional calendar, this date marks the middle of the summer season. Santilie is the guardian of the crops. He brings rain and hail, thunder and lightning. If it thunders and rains on Santilie, the apples will be wormy. The saint is crossing the skies with his chariot of fire, to protect the living. One shouldn’t work in the field, or make hay, for he will set the stalks on fire.
- July 21 – Saint Ilie Palie (Ilie the Little) is SantIlie’s carriage driver. He will burn down the houses of those who work on that day.
- On July 22 – Saint Foca, the peasants from Maramures stop working for 3 days, on 20, 21 and 22. It is believed that Ilie Palie sets the fire and Foca blows to mend it.
- August 6 – Schimbarea la Fata (The Changing Face of Jesus) Working the hay stacks should be already done by that date, for the grass is starting to wither.
- One shouldn’t sleep in the barn on Christmas Eve, because on that night, the animals are speaking about the Birth of Jesus Christ.