Semlak in Banat, Arad County

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Semlak (German)
Semlak (Josephinische)
Szemlak (Hungarian)
Mezősomlyó (Hungarian)
Szemlakháza (Hungarian)
Semlac, RO (Official)

Weddings in Semlak

by Rose Mary Hughes

     Weddings in Semlak were three-day-long affairs; the displaced Semlakers in the United States continued this practice.  My mother told me of the custom of moving furniture out of one house where the food, consisting of all of the wonderful German-Hungarian dishes and the wonderful kuchens, would be served; the next-door house (most often relatives were your neighbors) would be cleared out for the dancing.  The bride wore a white outfit with the multiple skirts, white stockings, and a headpiece made of flowers—or she wore her “Sunday” outfit.  From photos, it appears that the flowers were artificial and most likely made out of silk—especially since weddings were more often than not held in late fall or early months in the year—the times when they weren’t working the fields.  The men wore dark suits and had a boutonniere composed of flowers and a long ribbon.  The bride carried an over-sized handkerchief (my mother’s was the size of a card table cloth) that either she or a female family member had embroidered with the bride’s initials and the date and a wide crocheted border.  In our family, our two granddaughters have the framed wedding hankies of their great grandmother and great, great grandmother.

     Invitations weren’t sent out; rather the groomsmen with ribbon boutonniere on their lapels would go from house to house inviting the guests.  In the two weddings we have depicted here, the only real difference is the setting and the length of the ribbon on the boutonniere. 

At midnight, the veil would be “sung” off the bride’s head.  At our wedding, we followed that tradition and my veil was slowly sung off—first the young, single women with the bridegroom made a circle around me and were happy and smiling; then as the song moved to the idea that now I was a married woman, the married ladies moved in and the single ladies backed away.  The last to join the circle were my parents.  The married women cried (some pretended and others really cried) as the last hairpins holding the veil were removed.  I was now a married woman with all the attendant responsibilities.  The loosely translated song follows:

German English
Trete bei, trete bei mein Eheman.

Dich will ich lieben mein leben lang.

Tretet bei, tretet bei irh kameraden mein,

Mit euch will ich noch einmal lustig sein.

Tretet ab, tretet ab ihr Kameraden mein,

Mit euch kann ich nicht mehr lustig sein.

Tretet bei, tretet bei, ihr Weiberlein,

Schließt mich in eure Gesellschaft ein.

Nehment ab, nehmet ab das Kränzelein,

Setzet auf, setzet auf das Häubelein.

Tretet bei, tretet bei liebe Eltern mein,

Von Euch muß ich jetz geschieden sein.


Step in, step in, my husband

I will love you all my life..

Step in, step in my comrades (girlfriends)

With you I will once more be merry. 

Step away, step away my comrades,

I can no longer be merry with you.

Step in, step in you married women,

Embrace me in your society (company).

Take away, take away the wreath (crown),

Put on, put on the hood (kerchief).

Step in, step in my beloved parents,

I must now be divorced from you.

Semlak Village Coordinator: Rose Mary Keller Hughes, New York, USA
© 2006-2013 Rose Mary Keller Hughes unless otherwise noted.
Last updated: 07 Jul 2013


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