Towards a Social History of Ancestor Worship in Romania Cover Image

Pentru o istorie socială a cultului moşilor în România
Towards a Social History of Ancestor Worship in Romania

Author(s): Marin Constantin
Subject(s): Cultural Anthropology / Ethnology
Published by: Editura Palatul Culturii
Keywords: ancestor worship; genealogical descent; elderly-ruled land inheritance; village council of elders

Summary/Abstract: As it has been accounted for in Romanian ethnographic areas, the ancestor worship is accomplished within the framework of Christian religion, to the extent to which the ceremonial process and the ritual artifacts that are associated with one’s venerated forebears are consecrated by Church. However, the ancestor cult is not entirely originated into Christianity. As a matter of fact, the sacredness of ancestors does not stem from sanctifying departed people, since they are neither deities, nor semi-deities. Likewise, as a rule, ancestors in Romania do not populate any local mythology of supernatural beings or facts. It follows that the ancestors’ prestige appears to be rather cultural, than a mere religious one. Especially in Wallachia and Moldavia, as well as among peasant communities in Maramureş, relying on native genealogies, the ancestor worship usually evokes the descent of a village’s kinship groups. Within Romanian folk terminology, the ancestor worship is also relevant for traditional institutions of inheritance and customary law, which both emphasize the normative role of elders in the life of peasant rural populations during their restructuring demography, social structure, and economy, in late Middle-Ages period

  • Issue Year: 2014
  • Issue No: 14
  • Page Range: 115-134
  • Page Count: 20
  • Language: Romanian