The household in Transylvania

The traditional household in Transylvania

The Transylvanian household: A unique traditional ecosystem

Surrounded by the magnificent Carpathian landscapes and radiating a specific rustic-medieval aura, the Transylvanian household is the key element in the traditional village’s self-sustainment; thus it constitutes a source of natural foods unique in Europe.

The traditional household | summary

The traditional rural Romanian household located on Transylvania World’s territory, remained well-preserved throughout the ages, keeping most of its characteristics since medieval times. On a small scale compared to the Western rural households, the Transylvanian household is self-sustaining in a rustic and unpolluted environment, unique in Europe. Cropping bio foods in this habitat redefines the term “natural product” and generates an ascending international brand in a niche which is starting to take off globally.

The Transylvanian household | Concept

The Transylvanian household from Romania is the key component of the traditional Romanian village. It is perfectly integrated with the natural surroundings, it is the main source of traditional and natural goods, but it also has a significant role regarding the arts and crafts and especially the folklore which evolved from the Dacian mythology. The household has a mixed character as the place where the villagers’ basic actions take place: agriculture, raising livestock and pomology.[1] [2] [3] [4]

Usually located nearby the foothills that delimitate Transylvania, on the valleys and mountain plateaus, the village enjoys a highly natural environment full of biodiversity and also the natural beauty unique to the Carpathians; sometimes these villages can be found at over 4500 feet altitude.

Tourists visiting the village or household for the first time are greeted by a rural atmosphere with a medieval flair. The country specific smell - wood, hay and flowers - combined with the songs of birds and the sounds of animals that freely wander the village streets offers a truly unforgettable experience.

The house represents the landmark to which the Transylvanian household annexes report to. Thus, the rustic constructions which form the household are arranged in a certain pattern, closely linked to its utility. Any traditional household includes several buildings which form a whole, the main place being occupied by the building in which the family lives.

Around the house, usually other rustic utilities are placed, such as the workshop, the woodwork, the fodder barn, the poultry coop, the pigsties, the stables for cows and sheep and in some places one can see the special room for storing maize and the cellar (in which vegetables, pickles, alcoholic beverages or canned products are being kept).[5] [6] [7] [8]

The oldest confirmed European civilization, Cucuteni Civilization, introduced the two storied houses in Transylvania. The Romanian peasant introduced his original version of household architecture, one which withstands from the medieval period and fits perfectly with the natural environment, serving for all his activities.

The traditional house usually consists of two or more rooms, an entrance hall which serves as antechamber and sometimes a pantry, a porch and a summer kitchen. About 100 years ago, the living room had a multifunctional role, being used both as an actual living space as well as a storage space for various goods or a kitchen in the cold seasons. When the house had only two rooms, one was destined for living and one for the chest with dowry (in which traditional clothing and valuables were kept).

Nowadays houses with several rooms, sometimes on two levels are preferred, a distinctive feature being the retained interest for the wider use of wood.

The particularity of traditional Transylvanian households is given by their small size. The strong industrialization that has dominated Western Europe removed traditional households from the landscape, Transylvania being virtually the only area in Europe where one can still find these. Pronounced industrialization and the development of exclusively oriented towards profit farms in Europe also led to excessive use of chemical fertilizers, with negative repercussions on the product quality.[9] [10] [11] [12]

The traditional Transylvanian village households are the exact opposite of the above example. The family that owns household uses natural fertilizers originated from their own animals. Food surpluses of household goods end up as animal nourishment, completing this way a closed
Truly natural foods are produced by small farms found throughout Transylvania, and the naturalness of the products can be determined even based on color, size and their unmistakable taste. Traditional cuisine use natural ingredients from farms and this gives them a unique flavor.

The Transylvanian cuisine has been influenced by the intersection of cultures that visited this territory but combining these techniques and influences, which in turn are used to create the products, gives them uniqueness and generates an extremely conducive setting for the development of culinary tourism. The main Romanian products are various types of cheese, milk, ham, and house made cans: jams, syrups or vegetable stew (a snack made from vegetables).

Transylvanian villagers still use hand-operated tools and equipment. Plows pulled by horses or oxen drawn yokes are still used nowadays for the process of cultivation. Wooden mills for grinding cereals are also used in Transylvania, together with wooden version of the modern washing machine, preserved since ancient times and operated using river water.

The tradition of collecting and using medicinal plants has been used since antiquity and is still present today. Exactly like the ancient Dacians, nowadays Romanians’ ancestors, villagers themselves collect the necessary herbs which are abundant in the neighboring hills and the mountains; they place high value on their usage in different varieties of teas and tinctures. The result of these natural treatments is that the Romanian peasant does not need regular doctor appointments; he successfully manages to take care of himself thanks to medicinal plants and ancient methods.

Ancient and medieval traditions were preserved extremely well in the villages and households. Popular feasts, fairs, or hundreds of years old habits are opportunities for the whole village to celebrate together but also an ideal opportunity to gather together several villages.

The family life in a household is conducted in close contact with Transylvanian folklore and folk traditions. The wonderful Romanian legend and stories with fantastic characters such as the werewolf and vampire are among the first things that parents tell their children. In this way both their continuity and the omnipresent mystical Transylvanian atmosphere is maintained.

Men deal with agriculture or raising livestock while some of them specialize in crafts such as working with leather, furriers, saddling or sculpture. Women deal with the household maintenance, the preparation of traditional food, weaving and sewing costumes.[13] [14]

It should be noted that all these activities have common elements; the key point is harmony in the household. Activities are interconnected resulting in various specializations within the village. Thus, some villagers specialize in the production of vegetables, others in meat, and some in dairy products, and when they needed supplies, they trade with each other. Every household is specialized on one or more types of products.

The traditional household is a key element of the existence of the Transylvanian village itself. The self-sustainment of the village is possible thanks to the and vice versa. The referred cyclicality has been kept for hundreds of years, offering a downright unique setting in Europe. Living in a household focuses on the idea of ​​family, home grown exclusively natural products, livestock and crafts, all of this happening in a magical space with a medieval atmosphere.[15] [16]


Note: The Transylvania World concepts are an essential part of the association brand and their usage has to quote the source and reference this website.

Research sources:

1. Vulcănescu R., Mitologie Română, Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste Romania, 1987
2. Ioan Țiplic, Istoria fortificațiilor medievale timpurii din Transilvania între mit, naționalism și arheologie, European Institute, 2007
3. Conf. univ. dr. Claudia Costin, Curs de etnografie și folclor, ”Ștefan cel Mare” University, Suceava
4. Delia Suiogan, Arta populară- formă de comunicare, Memoria Ethnologica Nr.26-27, 2008
5. Patrimoniul Cultural Imaterial din România.Repertoriu I , CIMEC- Institutul de Memorie Culturală, Bucharest, 2009
6. Romulus Antonescu, Dicționar de simboluri și credințe tradiționale românești (source)
7. Lucia Apolzan, Carpații, tezaur de istorie. Perenitatea așezărilor risipite pe înălțimi, Editura Științifică și Enciclopedică, Bucharest, 1987
8. Prof.dr. Ioan-Aurel Pop, Curs Istoria Transilvaniei Medievale- de la etnogenezaa românilor până la Mihai Viteazul
9. Monumente de arhitectură tradițională în Muzeul Astra, Complexul Național Muzeal Astra, Muzeul Civilizației Populare Tradiționale Astra, Editura ”Astra Museum”, Sibiu, 2010 (source)
10. Cosma C., Considerații privind așezările rurale și tipurile de locuințe din Transilvania în secolele VIII-X
11. Coord. Șt. Dr. Pompei Cocean, Doctorand Lăcrămioara Florinela Popa, Migrațiile Transilvănene în Subcarpații Getici. Studiu de Geografie Istorică, Univ. Babeș-Boyai, Cluj-Napoca, 2012
12. Coord. științific Prof. univ. dr. Paul Niedermaier, Doctorand Andreea Buzaș Neagoe, Satul tradițional reprezentat în muzeele etnografice în aer liber din România – rezumat, Univ. Lucian Blaga, Sibiu, 2014 (source)
13. Flavius Mihalache, Alin Croitoru, Mediul Rural Românesc: evoluții și involuții. Schimbare socială și antreprenoriat, Expert Publishing House, Bucharest, 2011 (source)
14. Etnolog Emilia Ometiță, Meșteșugurile tradiționale în Județul Bistrița – Năsăud, Centrul județean pentru Cultură Bistrița – Năsăud
15. ETNOMON – Virtual museum of open-air ethnographic monuments in Romania (source)
16. Muzeul Județean de Etnografie și Istorie Locală Caransebeș, Tibiscum, 1988 (source)

Other concepts


  • Overview of the definitions and concepts developed by Transylvania World Association and the key points of our research.
  • Official concepts

  • Transylvania (Definition, etymology, geography, history and its present state)
  • Transylvania classification into three geographical areas: Central, Political and Transylvania World with its influences
  • Carpathian Mountains (Definition, setting, the connections between legends and reality)
  • Cucuteni Civilization (Definition, geography, facts about the oldest civilization of Europe)
  • Ancient Dacians (About the ancient Dacian people, predecessors of the Romanians)
  • Vlad the Impaler (Also known as "Vlad Draculea" or "Vlad Dracula", one of the most important European leaders who stopped the islamic takeover of Europe in the Middle Ages)
  • The traditional Transylvanian village (definition and overview)
  • Mithological concepts

  • Dacian mythology (Mythology spawned on today's territory of Transylvania, where the Dacians lived, the ancestors of today's Romanians)
  • Werewolf (Incorrectly promoted as a negative character, the concept has generated from the Dacian mithology)
  • Vampire (Definition and concept; global promotion because of the Transylvanian traditions)
  • Dracula (The fantastic character also known as "Count Dracula" or "The vampire Dracula", inspired by the transylvanian traditions and the real historical character Vlad the Impaler)

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