Customs and traditions

Customs and Traditions

Kibéd is characterized by a material and spiritual culture linked to traditional elements specific for village communities. Most of its traditions are in danger of extinction, though the people try to preserve some in their habits and ethics. These are sure to be preserved in the monography of the village as an evidence of their existence and importance in that particular cultural area.


The birth of a child meant worries and joy in the same time. If the family was large the new child meant new worries. They had to feed one more mouth, to clothe one more body, whereas their finacial possibilities were decreasing because the mother had to stop field work for at least six weeks after the birth.

In those families where they were expecting the first child there were greater worries. The mother-to-be was helped either by the midwife of the village or by one of the neighbour ladies. They were paid for with farm-produced goods. In the six weeks following the birth the relatives and friends visited the socalled “ill woman” and the newborn child, took them presents. It was a habit for relatives to take a meal to the family when they went to visit. If the child was healthy they used to baptize it at the age of one. If the child was ill it was baptized shortly after the birth. The baptism used to be held at the Reformed church parochy, which was followed by a feast organized by the parents for godparents and close relatives.

Wedding customs and traditions

The youth from Kibéd spent the best years of their lives working in the town. It has been like this ever since. Work in the village did not provide enough income for a future marriage. The girl needed dowry, the young man (besides his inheritance) also had to buy some land which would provide them the living. It was easy for them to find job in the town. They made a good impression on people, they were reliable, rational, hardworking and honest.

The preparations for the marriage started after their return home with the money they had saved for settling down. The lad used to court on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. If the young couple felt serious about the relationship the marriage proposal took place on a Saturday evening. The young man’s parents used to go to the girl’s place where they were served with caraway brandy and kneaded cakes. The parents commonly decided on the date of the weeding. After the engagement they went to a fair or to Nyárádszereda where they bought the engagement gifts. The bridegroom bought a silk shawl and the bride some textiles for making a shirt for the groom and a handkerchief. Then they started the shopping for the approaching wedding. On Saturday morning the young couple used to go to the notary’s office. Weddings used to be held also on Saturdays. The guests were invited one week before the wedding. The priest announced from the pulpit on Sunday morning the intention of the young couple to get married and asked for God’s blessing upon their marriage. The guests were invited by bestmen who walked round the village with sticks decorated with bunches of flowers. After greeting the villagers the invitation to the wedding sounded the following way:”You are kindly invited to the marriage of my master’s daughter and the following feast which will be held next Saturday”. The wedding started early afternoon at both houses. Around three o’clock the bridegroom’s kinfolk used to set out with horsedriven carriages, singing along. The bestman would say the greeting. Then the bride was “asked out.” First she was hid and an old lady was normally brought out in her place. Then the bride took farewell from her parents, good neighbours, relatives and friends. One of her best friends used to say the farewell instead of her: “My dear father, you are the first one I say farewell to, you who fed, clothed, loved me, be happy both in this and the afterlife. May God grant you long life so that I may see you and be able to nurse you.” Then they got on the carriages and went to the village hall to have the civil wedding ceremony and then to the church to have the religious wedding vows. On their way back they would go round the village to show everyone the “new woman.” After they had returned to the house the feast started and lasted until the following day. The kinsfolk wished the newlyweds to be blessed with many children, wished them wellfare and peace. It is important to note that the guests had helped with the wedding preparations. Eggs, flour, potatoes, hens, each of them brought something to the great feast.

The date of the wedding did not depend on the season but still most weddings were held either at the end of the autumn or in the winter, when the wine had been fermented and when there was less work in the fields. Nowadays weddings can be held in each season.

The wake

The wake is a custom associated with death. Traditionally a wake takes place at the house of the deceased, one or two nights before thefuneral. Around 7-8 o’clock the bells used to ring in the memory of the deceased person. Both men and women could take part in the wake but nobody was invited. Those who were there recalled memories of the deceased person, the relatives and neighbours brought wreaths, they discussed tasks regarding the funeral, they sang some burial songs and the church singer announced the time of the funeral.

The wake usually lasts for an hour. Those who die by natural causes are taken to the church on the day of the funeral, where a church service is held in their memory. Those who commit suicide are not entitled to a church service. The grave is buried by the relatives of the deceased person, and neighbours or hired men.

After the burial ceremony a meal is served in the local culture house where all are invited who were present at the funeral. Several people are appointed to make the invitation after coming back from the cemetery. As the funeral is over all participants are served with a glass of brandy and a slice of milk loaf. At the funeral meal they usually serve stuffed cabbage, mineral water, wine and bread. After the meal is over a spokesperson thanks everyone for participating.


Only few of the old customs have been preserved. Those existing today have changed, have lost their originality, we can only recognize a few of their former characteristics.

Neither preserving traditions nor renewing them can be selfish. If any particular feature comes to foreground, it leads to a damaged identity or exceeding the limits.

Each custom had a clearly defined purpose and point of time. Some of these customs are still existent nowadays such as the harvest ball.

In the old days the balls were usually held on Sundays after the church service. Two of the most serious young men were appointed to invite the girls to the ball. Their most important task was to ask the girls’ parents for permission. If the parents gave their permission the girl gave the boy a red band which he tied to a stick. If there were several bands on the stick already the parents allowed their daughters easily to go to the ball. On the day of the ball the lads set out after the church service to pick up the girls. They were allowed to stay at the ball until dinner time. If the girl had a serious suitor she invited him to dinner and then they went back to the ball. Some of the lads were responsible for the discipline at the ball. Drunk people were ordered to leave. If a lad asked a girl to dance and she refused this meant a great shame. Those who returned to the ball after dinner usually stayed until morning and had a nice time. The young people were disciplined at these balls because the elderly were also present, this way they got used to a disciplined behaviour. The balls played an important role in the development of the youth’s personality. After 1867 the balls were held at the village cultural home, which used to be the headquarters of the Austrian army. Balls nowadays retain only a few of their former characteristics.

The ball of richly packed and decorated baskets or the socalled ball of the families used to be organized in February. The ball was announced in time so that anyone could participate. This ball was organized for married couples, youth and children were not allowed to participate. There were different cultural programmes, songs, reciting of poems, dances, tricky games. The couples brought nicely decorated baskets full of delicious food such as: steaks, homemade sausages, cakes, homemade brandy and wine. The families used to eat from their own baskets, nowadays they share things. The ball room was also beautifully decorated and as they entered each man and woman used to get a heart shape cut out of paper with a number on it or some other sign. Dancing followed after the programme and dinner was served at midnight. After dinner the socalled “heart dance” followed, men, women had to search for their partners with the same heartshape and then dance with them. These balls could last until the following day.

The harvest ball

The harvest is the colourful mixture of folk feasts. There is evidence that harvest balls have existed since the XVIII th century. They might have existed earlier too. On the day of the harvest the owners of the vineyards set out on carts pulled by oxen, carrying barrels and baskets. They sang folk songs during work. If a barrel was full, a few people stepped in them and trod on the grapes. Nowadays this process is done with a press. The harvest is still a joyful event. Relatives and friends help, women and children usually pick the grapes, men gather them and take them to the carts to bigger containers. Then the grapes are taken to cellars for further processing. The master’s wine and the delicacies prepared by his wife also contribute to the joy of the event. The harvest lasts until late evening. After the grapes had been harvested and the barrels taken into the cellars boys on horseback and girls in carts used to go round the village and invite people to the ball. They used to decorate the ballroom with grapes and flowers. At 10 o’clock pm. The filed gurads’ dance took place. They used to wear traditional folk costumes. The socalled king and queen of field gurads began the dance, they wore red ribbons. There was an auction for the most beautiful and biggest grape wreath. Then games followed and the bunches of grapes used for decoration could be stolen. If someone was caught in the act they were fined or received some tricky punishment. The ball continued, there was a dinner at midnight and dancing until the following morning.

The carnival

The fact that people at the countryside make use of every opportunity to celebrate can be considered such a socio-psychological phenomenon which not only ensures the survival of the community and its self-identity but it also ensures a kind of solidarity. Bahtin analyses the socio-psychological and aesthetical role of the carnival in his work:”The Ideology of the Carnival”as follows: “first of all it is collective, everybody smiles, secondly the smile is universal, it concerns everything and everyone and lastly the joy at the carnival is ambivalent, it is festive but at the same time puzzling, it denies and states, it creates and renews”

Working together in the community (weaving together) and celebrating are characteristic to village culture. Long winter evenings and working together provided the background for the carnival. Girls and boys, young and old, children and adults took part in it. The masks were also created on the workstage. Girls were either active participants or passive agents of the carnival.The fancy dresses have not changed during the years.

The carnival period starts in the beginning of February. Since there were no television sets and other forms ofentertainment young people used to gather at someone’s place. In order to pass the time in long winter evenings boys used to hide behind masks and frighten girls or each other and recite poems. The ball which closes the carnival period is still organized today. The beginning of Lent, the fasting period before Easter marks the end of the carnival period. Lads used to go round the village wearing masks, greeting the villagers with songs and dances. They expected some kind of reward which could have been money, food or drinks. The food that had been gathered was served for dinner at the carnival. The carnival troop had the following members: two people were dressed in horse, one of them was the horse’s head, the other its body, there were two people, who asked for permission to enter the villagers houses,there were the beautiful and the ugly, there was a cashier, who collected the money they received, a beggar, who collected everything else they received besides money and those with the whips, who frightened curious children and took care of the rest of the carnival troop.

The beautiful were those nicely dressed and well mannered, the ugly were the frightening characters wearing rags. It is an interesting thing to mention that girl characters were acted by boys dressed in girls. The beggar’s face was covered with a black leather mask, his clothes were inside-out, there was a sack on his back in which he collected the villagers’donations. The carnival ball lasted until the following dawn.

Easter Customs and Traditions

Most of the Easter traditions are out of date, but some of them still occur today with changes such as dying Easter eggs, stealing gates, Easter sprinkling, tree decorations.

In Kibéd one week before Easter on Palm Sunday the reformed congregation holds the confirmation. Smaller pine trees or branches are decorated in the church with ribbons which in turn lads use one week later to decorate the gates of their girlfriends. In case a girl is unfriendly to boys they cause some damage around her house. For revenge they decorate the gates with a corn stalk, or steal the gate, remove the bridge. If they manage to steal the gate they hide it and the girl has to search for it the following day. If she does not find it she has to bargain with the boys for it. The price of the gate is usually a bucket of wine. Sunday is a rest day because on Easter Monday the lads set out again. Easter Monday is sprinkling day. Lads in small groups go to girls’ houses to sprinkle them with perfume or throw on them buckets of water, recite them poems. Girls give them dyed eggs (according to the boy’s age), cakes, wine, brandy or money in exchange. The Easter dishes are usually prepared on Good Friday, and of course there are Easter programmes and balls also.

Name day customs


These customs died out when pottery died out. If someone had name day in the village, their friends, relatives played a trick on them. From the village potter they got a big pot and filled it with ash. In the evening they sneaked to the house of the person who had name day and slammed it to the ground under the window shouting “Happy Name Day” and ran away.

Folk Costumes in Kibéd:

Folk customes have lost their original role. They used to be everyday costumes but today they are worn on holidays, feasts or during stage performances. The characteristic tights, woven skirts, boots and the red vest are worn at anniversaries, confirmations, harvest balls and performances. The folk costumes were manufactured by the villagers themselves, they only bought needles, cotton and thread. For centuries women from the village have manufactured textiles from plant and animal sources. They made linen canvas from hemp, broad-cloth from sheepskin.

The costumes of an old man were: a black hat, a long-puffed -sleeved shirt, tightened at the wrists, a black buttoned vest and soft knee-length boots.

The costumes of a young man were: a green hat, a white shirt, a red vest with strings, hard boots, white tights with a black hem.

The costumes of an old woman were: a black shawl, a black vest, a long black folded skirt, a black apron, soft boots.

The costumes of a young woman were:(with or without) a coloured shawl, a long-puffed-sleeved shirt without collar or with a lace collar, a red vest, a shorter woven red folded skirt, hard boots or shoes.

In the winter men used to wear underpants and woolen caps, women a big shawl and a thick sweater. Weaving and spinning are traditional customs. The traditional patterns are the pine-branch pattern and the peach-seed pattern. The traditional patterns imitated geometrical forms: narrow and wide stripes, rectangles, crosses, stars and so on.

Last update: 13.06.2019