The history and traditions of the Hungarian subgroup: the Szeklers
The Szeklers – sometimes also referred to as Székelys – are a Hungarian subgroup in Székely Land, Romania, and they speak Hungarian. The first written document about this ethnic group comes from the 12th century, 1116. During the middle ages, there were two groups of Szeklers: the western and eastern Szeklers. In the 14th century, the lesser populated western region of their territory melted into the Hungarian nation. The eastern Szeklers kept on fighting for equal human and government rights during their separation, and after the 15th century, they became a nation in Transylvania.
Magyarországom collected a historical article with everything we need to know about the Szeklers.
Where can we meet with these people?
Nowadays Szeklers live in the western regions of Romania which is called Szeklerland, but many people who live between the region of Brasov and Nagyszeben also avow themselves the members of the subgroup. Bukovina Szeklers left this region in 1764 and settled down in Hungary in the county of Tolna, Baranya and the region of the Vajdaság. But we can also find smaller groups of Szeklers in the capital, Western-Europe, United States and even in Australia.
The history of Szeklerland
During the Hungarian Revolution and Uprising in 1848, many Szekler people took part in the battles and fought for Hungary and wanted their nation to be united with the Hungarian one. After World War I and Trianon, Székely Land became part of Romania in 1920. During the 1940s, this part of the Romanian country became Hungarian territory again for a short period. Russian and German military forces occupied Szeklerland in 1944, and after Hungary lost in the war the Szeklers’ land became Romanian again in 1947.
According to Romania’s statistics in 2011, approximately 581,159 Szeklers claimed that they are Hungarian out of 810,367, which is 71.72% of the whole nation. The Romanian authorities had many attempts to make Szeklers part of Romania during the Socialist era and although it is part of the Romanian polity Szeklers always emphasise their need for an autonomy, a separated and independent land.
Traditional Szekler clothes and wearing
As every ethnic group, Szeklers also have their traditional clothes and costumes. Szekler clothes and costumes are unique because every one of them is made of special linen which is also made at Szeklers’ home by hands. The traditional material of this linen is usually sheep, hemp, wool and line. Every part of these clothes and costumes are sewed and designed by handwork.
These clothes also represent different kind of groups among Szeklers. For example, different Szekler villages use different kind of colours while decorating their clothes. Also, they have different kind of clothes for everyday life and special occasions and celebrations.
Until 1940, these clothes represented its owner’s marital status and religion as well. Young girls usually wore clothes with white apron and grown-up women usually black apron. These colours also represented the Szekler group; where they belong and what their religious believes are.
It is also an interesting fact that there is no Szekler costume which is made with the same technique. Every clothe they wear has its own look and type.
The folk art of Szeklers
The Szekler culture and folk art are famous for their pottery and designing art. Some regions of Székely Land developed their own motives and techniques during the past years. These undoubtedly Szekler products include black ceramic, furniture, and ceramic plates. Their folk art is also significant because they decorate wooden furniture with painting and special techniques.
Every piece of ceramic plate or furniture has its own world which represents the Szeklers’ feelings and their soul.
The colours they usually use are red and blue. They usually decorate these items with different kinds of plants and flowers. Every decoration is time-consuming and is a result of hard work. Although we are talking about simple decorations, they are various and spectacular.
The Szekler writing
The ancient Hungarian writing technique is something which is still used in Szeklerland. After the Hungarian state was born, the first Hungarian king István I ordered to use the Latin alphabet across the country. The ancient Hungarian writing remained popular in Transylvania and Szeklerland until the 1850s, and nowadays it started to become used again. It is basically an alphabetical writing technique, but every letter has its own sign.
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