Sounds of music, dance and merriment filled the air at the Skanzen heritage park in Szentendre, near Budapest, as Sültü Band walked from house to house with visitors in tow, opening a kid-friendly Shrovetide Carnival on March 6, 2011.
Evoking the traditional folk tunes of the small Hungarian-speaking Csángó communities in Moldavia and the Ghymes valley, the ensemble encouraged young and old alike to join in and shake a leg while touring peasants’ dwellings from various regions of Hungary on an early spring Sunday morning.
The carnival spirit soared higher after lunchtime as a masquerade procession clad in menacing costumes marched onto the scene to chase winter away. Reviving a Palm Sunday tradition going back hundreds of years in some parts of Hungary, a female straw puppet representing winter, darkness and fasting was carried outside the village and thrown into a creek. Sültü Band’s Csángó folk music sounded once again, and the rest of the afternoon was spent dancing around a bonfire to merry Csángó tunes.
During the Shrovetide Carnival, children were invited to participate in traditional crafts typical of specific regions, such as making carnival masks, straw puppets or spinning yarn. The event also featured museum exhibits of photos and artifacts documenting folk culture.
Szentendre’s Open-Air Museum of Ethnography, popularly known as the Skanzen, is a unique collection of traditional architecture showcasing peasants’ dwellings brought to the site from various regions of Hungary and permanently reassembled there. András Benkő and Sültü Band have been regular performers at Skanzen events, which take place several times a year to celebrate traditional holidays and festivals.