Croats from Recaș

Recaș is famous for its multi-ethnic and multilingual community that survives even today: a generous population of Serbs, Germans, Hungarians, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Poles and Roma, living together, just as they did two centuries ago. When they meet on the street, they greet each other in each other’s language, and this is a sign of great politeness.

The town is laid out and settled according to ancient divisions – each community came and settled where their great-grandparents had been given land, sometime in the mid-18th century, when the Swabians and Hungarians came to the area in large numbers. Since then the region was populated by Romanians and Serbs, who lived either in the town or in the surrounding villages and communes.

The Croats in Recaș are even older. The first records claim that they arrived here in the 14th century, settling in three distinct areas: the first group settled in Recaș, the second group in the village of Checea, and the third, the most numerous, in Carașova and Lupac, in the area of the Mountain Banat.

Since then, even after all this time, the Croatians of Recaș are still linked to their traditions and history. One of the highlights of recent years was the celebration of the feast day of the Catholic church in Recaș in the summer of 2009, when the Croats organized a prayer. The church service was held in Croatian and was attended by Croatian parishioners as well as members of other Catholic ethnic groups in the town. The children were dressed in Croatian folk costumes and the church was decorated with flowers. Afterwards, a festive Croatian meal was served and a traditional cake was tasted, all accompanied by the brass band, which played the old songs of the Croatian community. It was a special moment, a day of celebration in which Croatians declared their affiliation to the old traditions, but also to the multi-ethnic community.

Croats also have other important traditions, which they keep every year.  For example, the transition from winter to spring is celebrated in a feast, a ritual intended to ward off evil spirits and herald the rebirth of the world. In Carașova, children organize a masked ball, dressing up as characters from Croatian folk tales, with costumes and masks painted and made by the children themselves.

Although perhaps less well known among the people of Banat, the Croats are part of the region’s multicultural heritage, a community that has not forgotten its roots and chooses to celebrate and keep them alive just as their great-grandparents did, keeping their memories alive for more than five centuries.