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Hungarian - Csángós

Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ceangai / Csángó
Total population
1,370 persons declared to be Csángó - (2002 census)[1]

119,618 persons declared Catholic faith in Bacau County (2002 census) [2]
maximum estimated population of 260,000[3](Council of Europe report)

Regions with significant populations
Romania (Moldavia), Hungary (Tolna)

Csángó, an old dialect of Hungarian[3][4]; Romanian


Roman Catholics (almost exclusively)

The Csángó people (Romanian: Ceangai, Hungarian: Csángók) are a Hungarian ethnic group of Roman Catholic faith living mostly in the Romanian region of Moldavia, especially in the Bacau County. Their traditional language, Csángó, an old Hungarian dialect is still in use, though the larger part of them speak Romanian.



The etymology has been explained by a Hungarian word meaning "which sounds unpleasant", referring to the peculiar sibilating way in which they pronounced certain Hungarian consonants.[5][6][7]

History, culture, identity

Middle Age sources

Perugia, 14th november 1234: Pope Gregory IX to Bela IV, king of Hungary

"In the Cumani bishopric - as we were informed - is living a people called Vallah and others, Hungarians and Germans as well, who came here from the Hungarian Kingdom."

Roman, 13th of April, 1562: Report of the Habsburg Agent, John Belsius, to the Emperor Ferdinand the First.

"On the day of the 10th of April, Despot Voda left Harlau (Horlo) to Targul Frumos (Zeplak = Szeplak) finally on the 12th to the fortress of Roman (Romanvarasch)" Despot Voda ordered me to write these: Alexandru Moldoveanul forced all the nations, with no exceptions, to be baptized again and to follow the religion of the Moldavians, taking them away from their own religion, he appointed a bishop of the Saxons and the Hungarians, to rebuild the confiscated churches and to strengthen their souls in their beliefs, and his name is Ian Lusenius, and is Polish."

After 1562: Notes of the Humanist Johann Sommer about Saxons in Moldavia, from his work about the Life of Jacob-Despot, the Ruler of Moldavia

"Despot was unyielding in punishment, especially against the ones who don't respect the sanctity of marriage, -according to the habit of those people-: this habit was copied by the Hungarians and Saxons living here, in this country (Moldavia) He started to build a school in Cotnari, which is mostly inhabited by Hungarians and Saxons, "

Iasi, 14th of January 1587: Bartolomeo Brutti's letter to Annibal de Capua

"These Franciscans are very few and they speak neither German, nor Hungarian, so they can't take spiritual care of these catholics, 15000 in number.

Roman 1588: The First Jesuit Mission in Moldavia Written by Stanislaw Warszewicki

"In the whole region in 15 towns and in all the neighborhood villages there are Hungarians and Saxons, but most of them don't know how to read, don`t even recognize the letters."[8]

2001 Report of the Council of Europe

For centuries, the self-identity of the Csángós was based on the Roman Catholic religion and the Hungarian language spoken in the family.[3]
It is generally accepted by serious scholars (Hungarian but also Romanian) that the Csángós have a Hungarian origin and that they arrived in Moldavia from the west[3].
Some Romanian authors claim that the Csángós are in fact "magyarised" Romanians from Transylvania.
This theory has also to be dismissed: it is not conceivable that these "Romanians" could persist in using a "foreign" language after centuries of living in Romania surrounded by Romanian speaking Romanians[3].
Whatever can be argued about the language of the Csángós there is no doubt that this is a form of Hungarian which belongs to the Finno-Ugrian family.[3]

The Council of Europe has expressed its concerns about the situation of the Csángó minority culture[4], and discussed that the Csángós speak an early form of Hungarian and are associated with ancient traditions, and a great diversity of folk art and culture, which is of exceptional value for Europe.
It was also mentioned that although not everybody agrees on this number it is thought that between 60 000 and 70 000 people speak the Csángó language.
The Council has also expressed concerns that despite the provisions of the Romanian law on education and the repeated requests from parents there is no teaching of Csángó language in the Csángó villages, as a consequence, very few Csángós are able to write in their mother tongue.
The document also discussed that the Csángós make no political demands, but merely want to be recognized as a distinct culture and demand education and church services in the Csángó language.

In the time of this report's release, the Vatican expressed hope that the Csángós will be able to celebrate Catholic masses in their liturgical language, Csángó.[9]

Comments of the government of Romania, dissenting opinion on behalf of the Romanian delegation

The situation of Csángó community may be understood by taking into consideration the results of 2002 census. 1,370 persons declared themselves Csángó.[1] Most of them live in Bacau County, Romania, and belong to the Roman Catholic Church. During the last years, some statements identified all Catholics in Bacau County (119.618 persons according to 2002 census) as Csángó. This identification is rejected by most of them, who did identify themselves as Romanians.[2]

The name Csángó appeared relatively recently, being used for the first time, in 1780 by Petru Zold.[10] The name Csángó is used to describe two different ethnic groups:

  • those concentrated in the county of Bacau (the southern group) and in the area surrounding the city of Roman (the northern group).
    We know for certain that these people are not Szeklers.
    They are Romanian in appearance, and the majority of them speak a Transylvanian dialect of Romanian and live according to Romanian traditions and customs.
    These characteristics suggest that they are Romanians from Transylvania who have joined the Romanian Catholic population of Moldavia.
  • those of Szekler origin, most of whom settled in the valleys of the Trotus and the Tazlau and, to a lesser extent, of the Siret. Their mother tongue is the same as that spoken by the Szeklers, and they live side by side with Romanians.[10]

Hungarian sources

Their music shows the characteristic features of Hungarian music and the words of their songs are mostly Hungarian, with some dialect differences.[11]

The anthem of the Csángós refers to Csángó Hungarians multiple times.[12][13]

The Csángós did not take part in the language reforms of the Age of Enlightenment, or the bourgeois transformation that created the modern consciousness of nationhood (cf. Halász 1992, Kósa 1998).
They did not have a noble stratum or intelligentsia (cf. Kósa 1981) that could have fashioned their consciousness as Hungarians (Halász 1992: 11).
They were "saved" (Kósa 1998: 339) from "assimilation" with the Romanians by virtue of their Roman Catholic religion, which distinguished them from the majority Greek Orthodox society.[14]

Romanian sources

The Csángós, the Roman Catholic inhabitants of the western part of Moldavia, have been the object of numerous disputes between Romanians and Hungarians regarding their origin, their culture, their traditions and the ethnical minority they belong to.[15]

Official Romanian censuses in Moldavia indicate the following:[16]

yearRoman Catholics in MoldaviaHungarians in Moldavia


Hungarian sources

In 2001 the Romanian authorities banned the teaching of the Hungarian language in private houses of Klézse village despite the recommendation of the Council of Europe.[17]
The chances or rather the lack of chances of adjusting to official Romanian educational system must be mentioned, too.
After 1990 parents in Klézse (Cleja), Pusztina (Pustiana) and Lészped (Lespezi) requested several times that their children could learn Hungarian language at school either as an optional language or as their native language, in 1-4 lessons a week.
They did not want education in Hungarian but teaching Hungarian language to their children.
At best their petition was registered, but in most cases it was ignored.
With the help of various forms of intimidation and humiliation, the Moldavian Romanian nationalist triumvirate (church, state authorities and school) achieved their aim: in no Moldavian village did parents made any request for term 2001/2002.
Seeing the possibility of organising Hungarian courses outside school they gave up the humiliating process of writing requests without results but causing lots of troubles.
The MCSMSZ maintains its standpoint according to which the community should claim their legal right, but parents are not so determined.
Leaders of the school inspectorate in County Bákó (Bacau) as well as the authorities and the church declared at a meeting that they do not want to give any chance to the official instruction of Hungarian in Csángó villages.
In their opinion the Csángós are of Romanian origin, and some sporadic requests for teaching Hungarian at schools reflect not real parental demand but Hungarian nationalist ambitions all around the Carpathian Basin.[18]

In the village of Arini (Magyarfalu in Hungarian) the village mayor and the Romanian-only teachers of the state school, filed a complaint with the local police about the "unlawful teaching activities" of Gergely Csoma.
Csoma teaches Hungarian as an extracurricular activity to the children of Arini.
Following the complaint, the local police started what Csángó activists have described as an intimidation campaign among the mothers of those children who are studying their maternal language with the said teacher.[19]

In 2008 members of the European Parliament sent in a petition to the European Commission on the obstruction of the Hungarian language education and the alleged intimidation of Csángó-Hungarian pupils in Valea Mare (Nagypatak).[20]
As a feedback on the petition of László Tokés MEP, the leader of the High Commission on Minority Affairs responded: in a written notice they would warn Romania to secure mother tongue education for the Csángós of Moldavia.[20]

Romanian sources

Turning Romanian communities from Moldavia into servants of Magyars, Poles, Germans, Austrians, Italians was pursued by convincing Romanians from Moldavia to become Catholics.
The only ones who realized the danger were the local people who persistently resisted this switching their ethnic identity into Magyars.
From 1225 to 1925 numerous missionaries from western countries have been sent here to preach catholicism and in addition making the newly converted people embrace Magyar language and nation.[15]

The natives were forced to subject to the will of the missionaries in order to avoid conflicts with the authorities who had political understandings which were more important than the well- being of the christians.[15]

In these schools, teachers especially trained in Magyar language have been brought and they were paid according to the presence of their students in classes because they didn't have anyone to teach.
These teachers have been repeatedly banned from the communities they visited, the villagers manifesting a very hostile attitude towards the missionaries, telling them: "Go home, we are Romanians!" [15]

The official Romanian point of view changed in 2006, when President Basescu condemned communism during a joint session of the Romanian Parliament and called it an illegitimate and barbaric regime.
According to him, his intention is not a witch-hunt, but to discover the truth and to ask for a historical apology from the victims.
Therefore President Basescu has established a presidential committee for analyzing the Romanian communist dictatorship, which consists of leading Romanian historians and personalities.
This committee has prepared a 700 page document, which analyses the atrocities, the oppressiveness, the collectivisation of the regime and its negative effect on the economy and society.
The document describes the situation of the ethnic minorities during the communist regime.
On page 536 3 paragraphs describe the forced assimilation of the Csángó-s in Moldova and the responsibility of the Catholic Church.

"The assimilation policy of the communist regime had fatal effect on the Csángó community in Moldova, which counts a population of appr. 60,000, and lives in the counties of Bacau and Neamt.
The first attempts of the forced assimilation of the Csángós in Moldova date back to the time between the two world wars, in which process a significant role was played by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic Church in order to protect itself from the forced integration with the Orthodox church tried not to prevent the assimilation of the Csángós.
Therefore, they did not provide education and religious services in Hungarian for the Csángós.

The Romanian Workers' party has used the Hungarian Association to create 40 schools teaching the Moldovan Csángós Hungarian.
The purpose of these schools was to weaken the influence of the church in these communities.
These schools were eliminated between 1953 and 1958.
During the 70s and 80s, all those Csángós, who declared themselves Hungarians, had to live with the constant harassment of the Securiate."[21]

The Csángó anthem

The Csángó anthem[22][23][24][25]:

Hungarian Lyrics

English Translation

Csángó magyar, csángó magyar,
Mivé lettél, csángó magyar.
Ágról szakadt madár vagy te,
Elvettetve, elfeledve.

Csángó Hungarian, csángó Hungarian,
what are you, Csángó Hungarian
Bird fallen down from the tree
Abandoned, forgotten

Én Istenem mi lesz velünk?
Gyermekeink, s mi elveszünk!
Melyet apáink oriztek,
Elpusztítják szép nyelvünket!

Oh My God, what will happen with us?
Our children, and then of us nothing!
They are killing our language,
The treasure from our fathers!

Egy pusztába telepedtél,
Melyet országnak neveztél
De se országod, se hazád,
Csak az Úristen gondol rád.

You settled down on the steppe,
that you called homeland.
But no country, no home,
Today only God takes care of you!

Halljuk, áll még Magyarország,
Úristenünk, te is megáldd!
Hogy rajtunk könyörüljenek,
Elveszni ne engedjenek.

We hear Hungary is still standing,
Lord of us, you too bless it
to be compassionate to us,
not to let us vanish.

Idegen nyelv bébortja nyom,
Olasz papocskák nyakadon.
Nem tudsz énekelni, gyónni,
Anyád nyelvén imádkozni.

You're oppressed by foreign language
Italian priests stand on your neck
you're unable to sing or confess,
use your mother tongue to say prayers

Mert mi is magyarok vagyunk,
Még Ázsiából szakadtunk.
Úrisen, sorsunkon segíts,
Csángó magyart el ne veszítsd!

We are also Hungarians,
Already split from Asia.
Our God, help our destiny,
Don't let the Csángó Hungarian be lost.


It is difficult to estimate the exact number of the Csángó because of the elusive nature and multiple factors (ethnicity, religion and language) of Csángó identity.

As far as ethnic identification is concerned, in the census of 2002, 4,317 declared themselves Hungarians and 796 declared themselves Csángó in Bacau County, reaching a total of 5,794 out of the county's total population of 706,623.
The report of the Council of Europe estimates a Csángó population ranging from couple of tens of thousands to as many as 260,000 (the total Catholic population in the area)[3].

In terms of religious affiliation, the total number of Roman Catholics in Moldavia is 239,938 (2002 census), but only 43% of these live in settlements where Hungarian is spoken.
As far as language use is concerned, the Council of Europe gives estimates that put the total number of Hungarian-speaking Csángó people between 60,000 and 70,000, "Although not everybody agrees on this number" (it may be higher or lower).[4]


  1. ^ a b Populatia dupa etnie ("Population by ethnicity"), 2002 Romanian census site
  2. ^ a b "Comments of the government of Romania on the second opinion of the Advisory Committee
    on the implementation of the framework convention for the protection of national minorities in Romania
    Government of Romania. http://www.coe.int/t/e/human_rights/minorities/ 2._framework_convention_(monitoring)/2._monitoring_mechanism/5. _comments_by_the_states_concerned/2._second_cycle/PDF_2nd_Com_Romania_en.pdf.
    Retrieved 2008-10-11
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Csángó minority culture in Romania". Committee on Culture, Science and Education.
    Council of Europe. 2001-05-04. http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/WorkingDocs/doc01/EDOC9078.htm . Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  4. ^ a b c "Recommendation 1521 (2001) - Csángó minority culture in Romania".
    Parliamentary Assembly.
    Council of Europe. http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/AdoptedText/TA01/EREC1521.htm.
  5. ^ Alexandru Cioranescu, Dictionarul etimologic român, Universidad de la Laguna, Tenerife,
    1958-1966 ceangau
  6. ^ Erdmann D. Beynon, "Isolated Racial Groups of Hungary", Geographical Review,
    Vol. 17, No. 4 (Oct., 1927), pp. 604
  7. ^ Anna Fenyvesi (2005). Hungarian Language Contact Outside Hungary: Studies on Hungarian as a
    Minority Language
    . p. 174. ISBN 9781588116307.
  8. ^ http://www.hungarian-history.hu/lib/tsangos/tsangos.pdf
  9. ^ "Csángó anyanyelvu oktatás" (in Hungarian). Népszabadság. 2001-11-14.
    . Retrieved 2008-10-08.
  10. ^ a b "Appendix 2 - Dissenting opinion presented by Mr Prisacaru on behalf of the Romanian delegation". Delegation from Romania. Council of Europe. 2001-05-04. http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/WorkingDocs/doc01/EDOC9078.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  11. ^ Palma Szirmai. "A Csángó-Hungarian lament". University of Illinois Press. JSTOR. http://www.jstor.org/pss/850268. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  12. ^ "Csángó Himnusz". Székely Útkereso (cultural and literary magazine). 1998. pp. 6. http://epa.oszk.hu/01300/01336/00022/pdf/00022.pdf. 
  13. ^ Horváth, Dezsõ (1999). "Eleven csángó". Mivé lettél, csángómagyar?.
    Hungarian Electronic Library. ISBN 963 9144 32 0. http://mek.oszk.hu/02600/02600/02600.htm.
  14. ^ Balázs Soross. ""Once it shall be but not yet" - Contributions to the complex reality of the
    identity of the Csángós of Moldavia reflected by a cultural anthropological case study
    " .
  15. ^ a b c d "History. Fragments from the Csángó past". Ceangaii, the Roman Catholic from Moldova. http://www.ceangaii.ro/index.php?id=3&L=1. 
  16. ^ Hungarians of Moldavia [1]
  17. ^ "Betiltották a csángók magyaróráit" (in Hungarian). http://index.hu/politika/kulfold/csango/. 
  18. ^ "The Moldavian Csángós want to learn Hungarian". Homepage of the Hungarian Csángós. http://csango.hu/en/index_kika.html. 
  19. ^ "Rumanian Atrocities Against the Csángó Minority". Homepage of the Hungarian Csángós. http://csango.hu/en/index_aktual3.html. 
  20. ^ a b "The issue of Hungarian Education in Moldova, Romania in front of European Parliament".
    The Association of the Csángó Hungarians of Moldova. 2008-03-06.
    . Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  21. ^ assimilation of Csángos[2]
  22. ^ "Kik a Csángók?/Who are The Csángós?, Csángó Himnusz/Csángó Anthem".
    Foundation for The Hungarian Csángós, Registered foundation. http://www.keresztszulok.hu/kikacsangok/himnusz.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  23. ^ " Pro Minoritate Foundation, http://www.csango.hu/".
    For Minorities Pro Minoritate Foundation, Registered foundation.
    . Retrieved 2009-01-10.
    Webpage: http://www.prominoritate.hu/
  24. ^ "Csángó Himnusz". Székely Útkereso (cultural and literary magazine). 1998. pp. 6. http://epa.oszk.hu/01300/01336/00022/pdf/00022.pdf. 
  25. ^ Horváth, Dezso (1999). "Eleven csángó". Mivé lettél, csángómagyar?.
    Hungarian Electronic Library
    . ISBN 963 9144 32 0. http://mek.oszk.hu/02600/02600/02600.htm.

External links