Ethnographical Elements

    The Traditional Dwellings
    Given the fact that the people founding the villages that are nowadays part of the Tormac commune were colonists brought from various regions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they did not have common customs and traditions. It could be said that some of these were somewhat similar, but there was no uniformity from this point of view.
    The building of the dwellings is one of the most unitary aspects of the local culture, because the first houses were built specially for the colonists by the authorities that were in charge of this phenomenon, being finished before their arrival.
    The houses built for the first Swabian colonists – during the reign of King Carol III and of Empress Maria Theresa – were low ones; they had walls made of brick and they consisted of a room and a kitchen. Reed was used a lot for the exterior of the houses. Plank was rarely used as a building material. A window where the householder’s scythe was also hung served as a lighting aperture. The roofs were made only of reed. The walls facing the street had two windows.
    The houses built during the reign of Emperor Joseph II were taller, dwellings consisting of two rooms being already built. The verandas had pillars along the entire length of the house, and the entrance to the house was straight from the street. Decorations started appearing on the front wall of the dwellings, and, extremely rarely, tile-covered houses could be seen.
    The houses were built at the back of the courtyard, only their façade facing the street. On the inside, the first room was called “the large room” and its windows were facing the street. Next were the kitchen and the bedroom, overlooking the courtyard. Right next to the house were the outbuildings, namely the storeroom or the „şpais”, the stables and the shed for the waggon. All the rooms and the outbuildings had a single, common roof.
    On the opposite side of the courtyard were the barn and the pigsty, these outbuildings being located so that the householder could see them from the kitchen door or from the bedroom window. At the back of the courtyard there were the storage place for the firewood and the place for throwing the garbage. The vegetable gardens were quite small.
    The Interior of the Houses
    The inside of the dwellings was painted white, and the lower part of the walls, at about 56-60 cm from the floor, was painted in a dark colour. The rooms and the kitchen had no plank floor. Inside, the beams of the ceiling could be seen. The main characteristic of the dwellings was the fact that the ceiling was very low.
    In the middle of the main room there was a table, surrounded by brick props over which was put a piece of plank, instead of chairs. With time, they were replaced by benches and, in the case of the most well-to-do households, by chairs. On one of the walls hung the mirror, under which there was the women’s dowry chest, painted and decorated with tulips. On the main beam hung the chandelier. On the walls there were hung, also, the man’s military service record, the bridal bouquet from the spouses’ marriage and perhaps several portraits.
    The heating of the rooms was accomplished by means of ovens with hearths. During the long winter evenings, the family and neighbours gathered together; they sat around the oven and warmed themselves up, talking about the latest gossips of the day. The women spun, the men smoked their pipe, and the children hid, in order to avoid annoying the adults.
    In the kitchen, the walls were decorated with painted plates made of clay or porcelain. Being in the kitchen was no pleasure for anyone, because all the smoke stayed in there, the chimneys being open, which caused draught to be produced. The cooking vessels were made of cast iron, being placed on a triangular stand, under which fire was lit. It was also here that the sausages, the bacon and the ham were smoked-dry.
    Traditional Costumes
    The local men usually wore a long linen shirt, a small and a bigger waistcoat and a hat, and during the winter they wore an overcoat, a fur coat, a thicker waistcoat and a cap. For the overcoat they used dark blue or striped black broadcloth. The elders wore in winter sheepskin trousers, whereas the young and the middle-aged men, no matter the season, wore linen slacks. When going to church or in other special places, their costume consisted of a fur coat and tight trousers.
    The women wore a wide skirt, an apron and a long-sleeved linen shirt. They plaited their hair and gathered it up, and they covered their head with a headkerchief. The unmarried girls wore for most of the time clothes made of light-coloured fabrics, flower-printed cloth. They wore no headkerchief and they kept their hair long, plaited and tied with a ribbon. They wore boots, shoes, during winter boots with foot wraps. Instead of boot polish, the shoes were conditioned with lard.
    The underwear for the entire family was made by the women, who weaved and cut to measure clothes of linen and hemp. The necessary linen and hemp were obtained by every family from their own crops. From these materials were also made the bed sheets, the towels, the table cloths and other objects needed in the household, such as sacks and curtains. For all these things, they needed no money; everything was obtained by their own means.
    There were also houses where the young people gathered on the autumn and winter nights, in order to weave, spin and do other such activities, but where they also sang, made jokes and had fun. These meetings were also used in order to get to better know each other. When there was also a fiddle available, they started dancing.
    Wedding Habits
    In the past, a marriage proposal was a kind of “trade”, that is the girls, when they reached marriage age, waited for the future bridegroom to come with a sum of money established by their parents through mutual agreement. But this custom wasn’t to be found in Rittberg.
    Here, all marriages were initiated by the matchmakers, women traditionally called “Devils in flesh and bones”, who, at the request of a young man, tested the family of the bride-to-be in order to find out whether she had already been promised to someone else. If not, then the girl was asked whether she liked that boy and if she would accept his marriage proposal. Only after everything was settled did the family of the bridegroom-to-be start looking for sponsors, who had to ask the girl’s hand for the boy. Before the preparations went further, the future marriage had to be announced at church: who was marrying whom, who the parents were.
    For the official marriage proposal, the young man accompanied his parents and sponsors. They took a bottle of wine with them and, once they got to the house in question, they started talking to the householder, in the presence of the young man, in order to find out whether he agreed to let his daughter marry. The sponsors could notice if the girl’s family were not in favour of the marriage, because she was not allowed to enter the room during their conversation, their questions received evasive answers and no further date was established.
    When the girl’s family agreed to the marriage proposal, firstly the parents expressed their agreement, and only afterwards was the girl called into the room, too. She agreed to marry in exchange for the presents that were brought, according to custom, and the engagement date was already chosen. To the engagement were invited the relatives and close friends of the two families. The engagement took place at the girl’s house, but the expenses were largely undertaken by the boy’s family. The girl’s friends, the bridesmaids, adorned the hats and canes of the best men (a young and an older one). The marriage intention was announced in church for three Sundays in a row, and, on the afternoon of the last Sunday, the best men, with their hats and canes adorned, went to invite the guests for the following Wednesday.
    On Tuesday evening, the boy’s family called his sponsor and several youths they assigned to his service, with well-established tasks. On that occasion, every young man received a “rank”: captain, lieutenant, sergeant, etc., which they kept until the end of the wedding, and the girls were asked, as good friends of the one that was about to marry, to pamper her, to advise her, and from that day until the wedding day, to accept that each of them kept her company for a night. Wednesday, on the morning of the marriage day, “the sponsor’s officers” invited the important participants: the bridegroom, his guests and the bride with her guests, whom they accompanied from her house up to the church. The marriage ceremony took place, after which every guest, on their own, the bride and the bridegroom’s, accompanied the wedded pair to their home.
    Afterwards, the bridegroom’s guests left, accompanied by music, towards the bride’s house; in the meantime, the bride’s guests came out of the house to greet the others. After the greetings were exchanged, the bridegroom’s sponsor showed up and requested that the bride be entrusted to the bridegroom’s family. The sponsor of the bride took her by the hand and entrusted her to the bridegroom’s sponsor or to the bridegroom, after which thanks were addressed to the girl’s parents for raising her and taking care of her until that moment. Then the attendants entered the house and the young people dined. The organization of the meal and of the party was the responsibility of the sponsors. They were also the ones who organized the dance, making sure that not everyone danced at the same time, because there wasn’t enough space, but, also, that everybody had danced at least once. During the party, no one was allowed to recite witty couplets, otherwise being “arrested” by the sponsors and closed in the cellar. If, because of too much wine, the atmosphere became tense, the best man shook the chain that hung in the middle of the room, attached to the main beam. The wedding party had to cool down upon hearing this sign, unless they wanted to be punished.
    During the wedding day, the bridegroom and the bride were separated. The bride spent the wedding night in the company of a friend and of another woman who watched over her. In the morning, she received her headkerchief and only wearing it was she allowed to dance with the bridegroom. On the last wedding day, the relatives and the bride’s family were invited to “the meal of loss”. On the first Sunday after the wedding, the bride was dressed by the bridesmaids and they went together to church.
    After 1920, weddings no longer took place at home, but at a local tavern, and later on at the cultural community centre.

    Still Living Traditions
    Customs such as watering the girls on Easter day, traditional weddings, Christmas carolling in the villages of Cadăr and Şipet are still being kept in the Tormac commune.
    Watering the Girls on Easter Day
    The young men pay visits to their acquaintances and water the girls in every family, wishing them prosperity. Sometimes perfume is being used for this purpose. In exchange, as a sign of gratitude, they receive Easter eggs, sponge cake and wine.
    The origin of this custom is not certain, though it is said it dates back to the 2nd century A.D.. One of the legends trying to provide an explanation for it says that, on the second day of Easter, a Christian girl was going to the market, in order to sell some eggs. On her way there, she met another girl, a pagan one, who wanted to buy her eggs. As they were talking, the Christian girl began explaining to the other girl what it meant to believe in God and how good it was to be a Christian, urging her to become one, as well. The pagan girl replied, “I will believe when the white eggs you sold me will turn red”.
    The wonder was accomplished, the eggs turned red, and both girls fainted because of the fear. On the road passed two young men, who, seeing they had fainted, ran to the first well, brought water from there and poured it over them, helping them regain consciousness. As a sign of their gratitude, the girls offered them red eggs.
    The Csűrdöngölő and Szederinda Folk Dance Ensembles
    In 1999, the Pro-Tormac Foundation was founded, having the purpose of helping the youth of the locality to know, promote and continue the tradition, the authentic Magyar folklore.
    In 2000, at the initiative of Mr. Nagy Albert, choreographer of the Szeged Folk Dance Ensemble (Hungary), the Csűrdöngölő Folk Dance Ensemble was founded. The group members are young people from the locality, nowadays high school and university students, even family persons in Timişoara.
    The repertory of the folk dance ensemble consists of 13 Magyar and Romanian folk dances, specific to several regions of Romanian and Hungary. All the dances include typical costumes, authentic ones, belonging to the dancers. They have been made by the dancers’ parents, using their own material resources, following a traditional style.
     During its 11 years of activity, the folk dance ensemble has participated in countless performances, both in Romania and abroad. The record of the group includes awards and diplomas from national and international contests. The most important of them are: the first prize at the D.K.M.T. Euroregional Festival, The “Stelele folclorului” National Festival – Oradea (2005), International Festivals from Belgium, France (2006), Turkey (2007), Hungary – every year, a performance at Romexpo, the Village Museum – Bucharest. TV appearances: TVR 1 Bucharest, TVR Timişoara – the Magyar language TV programme, Europa Nova.
  The activity of this folk dance ensemble is carried on by the Szederinda Folk Dance Ensemble, composed of 11 pairs of dancers. The Szeged instructors continue to train the two local folk dance ensembles, and, when they are not available, Ms Toth Rozalia, a school teacher, and Ms Szarvas Elisabeta, a pre-primary school teacher (for the Szederinda folk dance ensemble), bring together the dancers for weekly rehearsals. The coordinator of the folk dance ensembles is Ms Păştean Erika.
  Local Personalities
7 October 1923 - writer Alex. Jebeleanu was born in Şipet (d. 26.04.1996);
20 October 1938 - prose-writer and publicist Graur János was born in Tormac;
19 March 1941 - poet Esztéro István was born in Tormac;
9 November 1945 - economist Nicolae Ţăran was born in Şipet;
27 October 1950 – writer and museographist Kiss Andrei was born in Tormac.
  Twinning and Collaborations with Localities from Abroad:
   - Twinning with the locality of Cahuzac-Sur-Vère (France), concerning the collaboration in the social field;
  - Twinning with the locality of Rószke (Hungary), concerning the collaboration in the cultural field;
  - Twinning with the locality of Nagyrev (Hungary), concerning the collaboration in the cultural and economic fields.
  - Twinning with the locality of Decs (Hungary).
    Cultural Institutions:
The Tormac Cultural Community Centre
Programme: Monday - Friday from 8:00 to 16:00
The Commune Library
Schools: The Tormac Primary and Lower Secondary School
Churches: The Tormac Reformed Church
      The Şipet Orthodox Church