The annual celebration of the patron saint’s day for the local church is widespread. Within southeast Europe these celebrations mostly follow similar formats. These celebrations are known as ruga (plural ruge) in Banat, or in the Banat mountains also as nedeia (spelt in various ways). Ruge in Banat usually take place in the period between Easter and the beginning of November. The most popular dates are Rusali (50 days after Easter), and Sf. Maria Mare (15th August). Other popular dates include Sf. Maria Mic (8th September), Sf. Ilie (21 July) and Sf. Petru si Pavel (30th June).
Our first ruga was in May 2007 when we were invited to the village of Ghiroda by our friends Laita and Dusa. In the following years we went to a number of other ruga and village days in the area close to Timișoara, and since 2016 during summer weekends we tour the events throughout Banat, so far amassing over 100 experiences of ruge, village days (zilele) and similar events. For comparison we have been to a number of village events in the regions adjacent to Banat, and further afield in the northern Bulgaria counties of Vidin, Montana, Vratsa and Veliko Turnovo.
In the local context, these events are advertised via Facebook, reported in the local press, and shared on social media and YouTube, and these sources provide both information about when events will take place and what happens during the events. The historical context for our research is provided by published monographs and local histories, local archives especially http://www.memoriabanatului.ro/, local press, old photographs, and formal and informal interviews.
Our Ruge research focuses on the community event (rather than the details of the religious aspects), and the “participation”, especially the dancing and dancing people, placing this in the context of the event as an occasion for reunions and meetings with eating and drinking, some organized performances by local groups, and food and trinket stalls and fairground rides.
Mellish, Liz & Green, Nick (2020) Saints’ days celebrations (ruga) in Banat – community participation, dance, music and good times Acta Ethnografica Hungarica.