HORA (HOAR-ah) Romania
In Romania, the word Hora has two distinct meanings. For the dance called Hora, see the page on Romanian dance types. Here we’ll talk about Hora the social occasion. Until recently, Romania had one of the most vibrant folk cultures in Europe and the Hora was its heart.
In most villages Sunday afternoon was reserved for the Hora (sometimes called Joc in Transylvania), when most everyone gathered at the town square, a nearby field, or somewhere indoors in winter. While local musicians (usually Rom [gypsies]) played, dancing went on continuously, singles flirted and courted, deals were made, and general socializing occurred.
In the regions of Moldavia and southern Romania* the event started with the Hora Mare, or Large Hora, of slow to moderate tempo, so young and old could all participate. Then the teenagers and single adults put on performances from the village repertoire, which might consist of up to 60 dances.
Teenagers were considered ready to join the Hora at the age of 14 or 15, by which time they had assembled an elaborately embroidered costume, and were proficient dancers. The skills thus displayed were considered indicators of their abilities as future wives and husbands. Joining the Hora was their rite of passage.
A period of mourning ended when one rejoined the Hora.
The Hora could also perform a censuring role. Those who transgressed local law or custom were not allowed to participate. If the transgressor attempted to join a dance, all the others stopped; silence reigned until the guilty party left.
*Transylvania and Maramures have different opening dances at their Horas.