´Csobánolás´ - masked nativity plays of the Székely-s of Bukovina

´Csobánolás´ - masked nativity plays of the Székely-s of Bukovina (2013)

The masked nativity play of the Székely-s of Bukovina – called ’csobánolás’ – is a dramatic custom which represents the birth of Jesus Christ. Originally it was a peripatetic folk comedy, but nowadays it exists and is spreading mostly in school-, stage-, or outdoor- performed versions.

The participants of the 10-12-player performance (with a few exceptions) were all men or young boys. While in the past it was a tradition of the married men, nowadays the younger generation makes up the group, supplemented by a female choir whose members are following the group and are dressed in traditional costumes. In recent decades the religious nature, the fundraising and the entertaining function as well as the expression of the belonging to the Székely-s and the cherishing of the traditions are the biggest motivation factors of the custom.

The Christmas custom with Transylvanian origin was preserved during one and a half century in Bukovina then endured the short stay in Bácska, to finally settle after 1945 at the current inhabitancies: in the villages of Tolna, Baranya, Bács-Kiskun and Pest counties. In the centre of the nativity plays as well as in its history there is the searching process for acoomodation (the holy family) because the ethnic group, which is known for its adherence of traditions and strong sense of belonging, was forced to leave the homeland or residences and find a new home again and again.

Hungarian National Commission for UNESCO
Elemér Muharay Folk Art Assosiation
Assosiation of Hungarian Folk Artists
Institute of Ethnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Kriza János Ethnographic Society
Hungarian Ethnographic Society
Museum of Ethnography
Hungarian Heritage House
National Cultural Institute