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Pentecostal Church Decorating in Mende - Rite of Spring Festivities (2011)
The church decorating tradition in Mende (in central Hungary) is a rite of spring tied to the celebration of Pentecost within the Lutheran Church. All members of the congregation take part in the erection of the May Pole or May Tree - with specific tasks designated based on gender and age group.
Men of the community are responsible for cutting down, transporting and erecting the trees, while women and children prepare the textiles and ornaments to decorate the trees. Eight poplar trees decorated with ribbons, embroidered and crocheted scarves are erected in the central aisle of the church. The church service takes place with the congregation under the decorated trees.
The three-day celebration was originally part of the local ethnic Slovakian community’s traditions but the non-Slovakian Catholics and Lutherans in Mende and the surrounding villages also participate.
Although the Lutheran congregation operates as an active community year round, the continuation of the tradition has a significant role in reinforcing and strengthening group identity. Preparations leading up to the celebration, organizing and managing tasks, drawing in new participants and the community feast held after decorating the trees all serve to further group cohesion.