The first day of plowing and sowing

"Spring is coming, spring is coming, it is spreading all over the country!" You know what this is all about? All Romanian know their childhood song about the beginning of the spring. We all sang this song in our childhood. Well, with the coming of spring, in Padurenime, in the past, but also today, in some parts of the land there were certain customs sacredly preserved from ancestral estates. Let's find out what it's about.

As we well know, foresters are thrifty people. In the past, agriculture was their main occupation. It is a popular saying "it is good to make your cart in winter and your sledge in summer". What does this old saying actually mean?

The foresters, hardworking people, did not stay quiet even in the winter. They made sure that in the cold winter months, little by little, they repaired their tools and also their animals - especially horses, to be ready for a full new agricultural year. They did most of the things on the perimeter of their house, but some things required help from the craftsmen. Even though the villages in Tinutul Padurenilor are small, in the past they had a trade with craftsman in each field.

Usually, in Padurenime, winter lasts between 4 and 5 months. The foresters were eagerly waiting for the field work to begin. It is said from the elders that the first day of plowing was to be Monday or Thursday. Also these days, with luck in the mentality of the locals, it was good for young men to go to the girls they liked asking them for marriage. In the morning of that day, several rituals were performed around the household, both magical and religious. Let's not dwell so much on stories and find out what it's all about this day.

The farmer mixed in a jar of crushed coal (wood), fat and larch, obtaining a black paste with which the cattle were to be taken out for plowing, making a cross on the forehead. In Runcu Mare, before being slaughtered, the oxen were rubbed, after the head, with frog eggs, so as not to make holes in the yoke. A tassel of red wool and a bouquet of flowers were placed in the nail of the yoke so that the oxen would not be cursed. It is an impressive mix of customs based on practical experience, magic and religious faith.

The man was preparing the cart in front of the house, where he put the plow, the wheels, the harrow, the sacks with seeds, the bundle of hay (animal feed), a loaf of bread and a bowl of salt. After the oxen were prepared, the housewife also played an important role. She brought from the house a shovel with embers, on which she sprinkled the grass of the wind, the bridles, the grass of the filth, all harvested on the Friday of Sântoader, to which she added incense. She said, "Our Father"- The Lord's Prayer- while the man stood before the oxen with their heads uncovered. Then she circled the chariot and the oxen three times, holding the shovel with the embers smoking. At the end of the ritual, the man took an uncooked egg, went with it to the back of the cart from where he threw it over the cart to the yoke of the oxen. If the egg hit the yoke it was an auspicious sign, the year will be fruitful. The woman returned with a bowl of water from which she threw on the oxen and the plow. All these gestures were made in order to ensure the fertility of the sign and to protect the harvest, the cattle and the man from all the evils that could have beenfall them.

Only after this complex preparation did he go to the field, to the meadow that was to be shown, where the plowman performed two other rituals: he placed the sacks of seeds in the meadow, putting on them a large lump of earth, like the wheat that will be obtained at harvest be as heavy as the earth. After pulling the first furrow, the plowman put a boiled egg under it at one end, "so that the new wheat would come out clean as an egg."

The optimal sowing period for wheat was late March-early April. The oats were sown in March and the corn after Sângeorz, when the oak leaves. Some farmers, especially those in the northern part of the land, used to cultivate a few meadows with an eagle (a crop sown with wheat mixed with rye). Surprisingly good harvests were often obtained by using this process. In this composition, the crops were no longer knocked to the ground by heavy rains and winds.

In places where it was not possible to enter with the cart, due to the rugged terrain or the large slope, the farmer did not leave home to the barn with the cart, performing the whole purification ritual around the cobs on which were placed the plow, harrow, seeds and traction animals. After plowing, all the utensils were brought home on the cobs.

What can we understand from these habits? As a general conclusion, the foresters were thrifty people, with the fear of God, but also very superstitious. They followed all the procedures known to their ancestors in order to be successful in agriculture for a whole year. Even though times have changed, and voluntary work has somehow been replaced by certain machines, with the help of technology, the people of the Forest Land still retain certain traditions and customs in some places. May God help us this year to have good harvests, and may the weather be with us!



English version by Norana Adina

Ținutul Pădurenilor - România