27 December 2022

PRHBYW- dissemination event

On Wednesday, the 20th of December, we invited members of the community to the GEYC office to talk about rural heritage as part of the project Promote Rural Heritage by Youth Workers. We talked about what rural heritage is, got familiar with Romanian traditions and discussed in what aspect of life rural heritage gets involved by preparing posters in teams. We concluded by sharing our thoughts on the importance of traditions. In the following article you will find highlights of this moment of sharing and learning.

The rural heritage is the traditions that we kept through the years. We use the word rural because these customs started in the countryside to be then disseminated in the cities by the people. The notion of generations of people and timeline is really important because it is what carries the rural heritage. Without kids, parents, grandparents or other far away relatives the rural heritage will be hardly kept as time passes. Of course, a part of it is also carried by the society and the culture of a country, with holidays, public holidays, certain dishes you find a certain time of the year in shops, events, etc…

The traditions were created most of the time around beliefs such as religions or spirits, ancient manners or even sometimes poverty, for example with dishes that are efficient to give you enough calories and warmth. The rural heritage is most of the time found around the same topics in countries, cities and villages. For example, around love relationships: we can still find families demanding dowries, waiting for the man to ask the daughter’s hand to her father. In some villages in Moldova, when two people start to like each other, the woman lights a candle at night in front of her window to tell the man she is waiting for him.

There are also traditions when you install yourself in a new home. Your parents could give you rice and/or salt to bring you prosperity, or you can bring the broom you used to have at your parents house, so when you sweep spirits go away and it brings good energies. And finally, there are also some traditions when you meet your relatives. Outside of religious celebrations, birthdays, there are customs such as “la bise” in France where you kiss the two cheeks of your family members when you meet them.

Overall, we find ourselves carrying these traditions so unfortunately, we tend to lose them through the times. They disappear more slowly in the countryside than in the cities. But as time passes, as more people live in the cities, how long will they be kept? Of course, some of them are forced to disappear with the evolution of society. For example with equality between genders, less people will use the concept of dowry and asking permission to marry to the father. We will also create our own traditions without knowing it and they will replace the old ones. Nevertheless, it is still important to keep some traditions, because they tend to unite people, to link different generations in families and elder generations to share their life and way of living with younger generations. It helps to better understand the way our world worked in the past and how it influences the way it works today.

Since our participants were from Brittany, Normandy, Alsace, Romania, and the Republic of Moldova, they had a lot of specific traditions to share, and some of them are mentioned above in this article. The end of the event brought a deep discussion on how all of them cherish their heritage and identity, and how this plays an important part of our everyday lives, even if we don’t realise it.

The project also produced a Manual of Competencies, which was shown to the participants towards the end of the event. This manual describes the skills of a Rural Heritage Adviser, a new occupational standard proposed by this project. As it was also discussed during the activities, traditions make up who we are, and as time goes by, it is that much more crucial not to forget them. This role would help public administrations in their endeavours, so that rural heritage can be preserved, and cultural identity be maintained.

Find out more at geyc.ro/PROruralheritage