Chasing away bad spirits and welcoming back heritage wisdom, social and economic cohesion in the ‘Urzelnlaufen’ in Cincu.
Where we are
Cincu is a small village of only 2000 people in the heart of Transylvania. It is a rich and diverse territory both in natural habitats as well as in heritage, including a millennia old legacy of various confluences of ethnic groups.
Similar to many rural areas, the area is suffering from severe depopulation. Starting after WWII and accelerating with a mass exodus after 1989, the process is leaving a void of community life and jobs. Cultural expressions, and with that a sense of community, have vanished from village life transforming the village into a “dormitory” place where nothing exciting happens, making children and young people dream of leaving. Only built heritage and scattered initiatives remind us of the vibrant culture that was once inherent to this territory.
To reenergize and regenerate the area, the Soxen Association is working on reviving the local Urzelnlaufen Festival. The Urzelnlaufen Festival is an annual community street festival of Transylvanian Saxon origin tied to the medieval tradition of craft guilds in Transylvania (the first found mention in the archives being from 1689). The ritual consists of masked characters roaming the streets and making terrible noises to chase away winter and bad spirits, wishing all the people – who welcome them with schnaps and yellow doughnuts (symbolic of the sun) – prosperity, health and fertility.
With the help of RURITAGE’s Role Models, Soxen Association hopes to legitimize and offer consultation on good practices on institutionalizing this custom. Being at the very start of their endeavor, they are in need of support, structure and prestige to encourage acceptance with local authorities, increase visibility of their custom and encourage local pride of cultural distinction among all ages. This will help with gaining more participants, educating them in local history and the importance of both tangible and intangible heritage preservation, and ultimately promoting the regeneration and sustainable development of the area.