The celebration of the day of patron saint of the local church is a custom that is widespread among Christians in various parts of the world. In the plain and mountain areas of Romanian Banat this day is referred to as ruga (plural ruge), literally meaning to pray. These customary events are local community participatory festivals in the sense that they include both active and passive participants, the former join in the dancing, the latter sit and watch whilst socialising with relatives and friends. Although these events are primarily held on calendrical days fixed according to the patron saint of a specific church they are in most cases attended by representatives of the many ethnicities and confessions that live together in the Banat region.
This paper examines saint’s day celebrations in Banat as one of the prime community events where music and dancing takes place. It draws on the authors’ fieldwork undertaken at saint’s day celebrations in Romanian Banat where they observed the similarities and differences in these events. Their research is supplemented by drawing on reports from local media on ruge, historical accounts, and conversations with locals. They draw the conclusion that over the time the concept of the celebration of ruge has been maintained although the precise details of the events have changed over time as these celebrations have adapted to meet the needs of present day communities while retaining their function as participatory community celebrations.