Women in Red&Black Striped Skirts

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photo Music echoed in the valley. About 3000 people gathered by noon in the Csíksomlyó valley, the sacred gathering place of all Seclers and more expected. “One Thousand Secler Girl Festival” (Ezer Székely Leány Találkozó) is a true community festival. The first festival was organized in  1931 to preserve Secler traditions, specially folk art, craftsmanship, music, dance and Secler traditional clothing.  Each year on the first Saturday of July, people come here from the hidden villages and cities of Seclerland to laugh, dance and celebrate Secler tradition. The festival’s statement is about strengthening faith, ethics and self-identity of the Secler community.

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The growing number of visitors in each year show the need for belonging to this community, and their need to get involved.  Every generation was here along with many tourists. Young girls were dancing in black and red striped skirts, singing  “Kicsi róka, kick nyúl/ Oda biz be ne nyúlj”. It’s a Hungarian folk song and word game with sexual teaching in it.  (“Little fox, little rabbit/ Do not put your hand there“) No English translation will work because these folk songs are the results of more than a 1000 year coexistence with nature, several nations and their deep root in their tradition and history.

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I sat down behind the craftsmen’s tents to sketch and feel the place a little. Girls, probably a few thousand of them, were in red skirts with black stripes all around in he valley, riding a horse or just enjoying this beautiful day. At the same time hundreds of people started dancing after sitting passively in the grass while folk-dance groups were entertaining them. Sekler humor is famous and they love to joke. Four young boy were climbing up on the hill in hats, shiny boots, and wore Secler “harisnya”, which is the very tight traditional pants for men. One approached me with beer in his hand; his face was red and asked me if I could give him an auto-gram because his friends told him I was a well known actress [LOL]. I told him I was not and I believe his friends made fun of him. It was true. I overheard these young boys laughing at him and he said sorry, laughed and went away.  I was laughing too.

Despite the joking temper there is some distrust in their eyes, and their facial expression can suddenly become grim. I do not know the exact answer but being a Secler means continuous fight against “fading away”. Sellers are welcoming, hospitable, loyal, friends for life. They fight to remain in this eroding world.

I felt hungry so I stood up because the sweet smell of “kūrtõskalács”  was very inviting. It is a feast pastry. I got one with walnuts.

Every first Saturday of July is the time to forget all problems and sadness, learn and evolve as a community. Time for passing the tradition of singing, dancing and sharing the secrets of Secler craftsmanships.

Now I close my eyes and relive this Red&Black Striped Skirt Saturday and see the whirling skirts again, dancing women, laughing faces, hear the sound of a violin and see the running horses in this sacred valley.


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