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Pentecostal church decorating in Mende

10. 12. 2013

Specifications

Keywords

Sep

Religious

Geographical area

Sep

Mende

In Mende, eight poplar trees decorated with ribbons, embroidered and crocheted scarves are erected in the central aisle of the church for the Pentecost. The church service takes place with the congregation under the decorated trees. The three-day celebration was originally part of the local ethnic Slovak community’s traditions but the non-Slovak Catholics and Lutherans in Mende and the surrounding villages also participate. The custom has been inscribed on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Hungary in 2011.

 

Locality Mende, Pest County Hungary
Time Pentecost (Saturday, Sunday and Monday)
History (cyclicality) The tradition of church decorating in Hungary can be traced back to the 17th century. This custom has a long tradition in Mende as well where it is performed regularly every year.
Organizer Local Evangelical-Lutheran congregation
Realisation team All members of the congregation – with specific tasks based on gender and age group
Target group The three-day celebration was originally part of the local ethnic Slovakian community’s traditions but the non-Slovakian Catholics and Lutherans in Mende and the surrounding villages also participate in the celebration and the preparations.
Traditional culture elements
Church decorating is a religious Pentecostal custom of greeting spring. All members of the congregation take part in the raising of the May Pole or May Tree - with specific tasks designated based on gender and age group. Men of the community are responsible for cutting down, transporting and erecting the trees, while women and children prepare the textiles and ornaments to decorate them. Eight poplar trees decorated with ribbons, embroidered and crocheted scarves are erected in the central aisle of the church. The church service takes place with the congregation under the decorated trees.
Ethnographic criterion The custom was known in several settlements in Hungary, but its preservation in Mende is unique. The way of handing down tradition is also defined: men teach the younger generation how to cut, transport and erect the trees, while women teach them how to prepare the textiles.s
Environmental criterion Church decorating has become an organic part of the customs of the ritual year in Mende and the Lutherans of neighbouring settlements.
Cultural-historical criterion Traditional phenomenon existing in several generations, this tradition can be seen as continuous. The originally spontaneous organization of events has been followed by a wave of more conscious safeguarding.
Aesthetic criterion The textiles and the decorated church represent the local aesthetic values.
Ethical criterion There is no ethical problem
Psychological criterion Although the Lutheran congregation operates as an active community all year round, the continuation of the tradition has a significant role in reinforcing and strengthening the group identity. Preparations leading up to the celebration, organizing and managing tasks, drawing in new participants and the community feast held after decorating the trees all serve to further group cohesion.
 

 

Photos by © Laura Iancu

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