May 13, 2008
Hundreds of thousands took part in the 442th Csíksomlyó pilgrimage in Transylvania on last weekend. The pentecostal event is the most popular religious festivity of Hungarians. In fact, it is the most popular event in the Hungarian speaking world despite the fact that Hungarians are one of the least religious peoples of the world.
Csíksomlyó (?umuleu Ciuc, Schomlenberg) is a Hungarian-majority village near Csíkszereda/Miercurea Ciuc in the Transylvanian region of Romania. Its Catholic inhabitants, the Szekler has been a distinct Hungarian-speaking group with a tradition of ethnic autonomy for centuries. The pilgrimage attracts almost as many participants each years as the Hungarian speaking churches all over the world on any given Sunday. This is very surprising in a society that is quite secular and detached from religion even by European standards.
The Csíksomlyó pilgrimage has a number of meanings: it is one of the last, living mediaeval popular religious festivities; it is a spiritual event of Catholic Hungarians, an ethnic and religious minority within Romania; it is held in a beautiful natural scene at late spring. The pilgrimage dates back before modern times. It is an event where pilgrims can identify with popular religion, the Hungarian community and Catholicism. The masses drown to Csíksomlyó each year demonstrate that religious tradition still remains a very powerful force in Europe.
The story of the Csíksomlyói búcsú reminds me to Kosovo. Although Transylvania has long lost its Hungarian majority, it has not been a Hungarian sovereign territory for a long time, the Hungarian-speaking minority is in a recession in Romania, this place attracts a record number of Hungarians from all over the world year by year since the border was opened between the two countries. Although Hungarians have had a feeling of loss over Transylvania, which is a part of modern Romania since 1920, in fact the Csíksomlyó pilgrimage was never lost to them. Countries, borders, come and go in history, and after a while they are not that important.Dániel Antal