Romania’s Csángó population is defined depending on the context and who makes that definition. A politically correct definition could be “the population (the Romanian and Hungarian speech with some variations) mainly from Moldova (Bacau County – North-East), of Catholic religion, with disputed origins: People who define themselves as living Csángós and other regions.”

The Csángós are studied, not only for the analytical aspects of their identity in the context of Romanian society, but because they are a perfect illustration of nation-building in the 21st century whose legitimacy still raise questions for fellow citizens.

The academic debate, may it be constructive or destructive, or formal or informal has serious impact on the population. Regardless of who is right, who manages to develop convincing arguments to handle the entire Catholic population, whether or not they are of Hungarian origin, they are subject to a “collective process that can lead to stigmatization of rejection reactions or internalization of stigma as Erving Goffman argues in the 1963’s “Stigma”.

Discrimination is centered around the rights of national minorities (the law on language use in administration and justice, the right to education in mother tongue language and the right to use in practicing religion). The Recommendation 1201 is the document cited in this regard. Articles 2, 3, 4, 5 of the Recommendation refers to the rights and freedoms that are covered by other documents, such as document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE (1990) or the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (UN, 1992). Of special importance for Romania is the Paragraph 3 of Article 7 regarding the use of language in administration and justice.

The public debate relates to the delimitation of the ethnic group, Csángó. The thesis debated for over 100 years is whether Csángós, understood as the majority of Catholic population of Moldova is of Romanian or Hungarian origin.

The public discourse and its implications

The implications of the existence of public debate takes place primarily in the political arena. Tri-polarized, the speech is as follows: First, the status assumed by the Romanian context Csángó is a reminder of the heterogeneity of a nation, built on the principle of diversity, not that of a “unitary state” of Daco-Roman descent. Ethnic impurity, based on grounds of religion or nationalism translates into being high or sometimes moderate. The second part of the public discourse, occurs on the AXIS Budapest (capital of Hungary) – St. George (capital of the Hungarian minority in Romania) and over the mountains to Bacau (where the majority of Csángós reside). The main issues involve territorial claims and the conversion of a community into an ethnic community, citing the linguist and religious criteria for membership. A third participant in the discourse is Italy, Csángós making contact with them through the Catholic Church (mainly during the process of  the Romanian migration to Italy).

Depending on the “external” interests the social structures are defined in one way or another. But the same can be done at the individual level, depending on the “domestic” interests. Assuming the social status of a role in the society brings personal benefits and it is limited to a single choice, but with strong social and political implications, especially in a society with very little tolerance.

“Labels” are created by different actors and they come with different benefits attached. Whether they are built on an ethnic Hungarian descent OR they consider themselves as being Romanian OR the point of difference is considered to be the religious one, Csángós are as real as possible. Although much research work on the subject supports research for the benefit of the people, this desire is clouded by the historical, political, or personal interest of researchers/institutions.

Alex Gotca (Romania), November 2010


  • Error: Unable to create directory wp-content/uploads/2021/09. Is its parent directory writable by the server? viktor

    thanx fr the valuable article

    very good

  • The “Csango” ethnicity does not exist.
    An ethnicity cannot suddenly appear, only on the basis of the statements of a Szekler priest Péter Zöld . An ethnic group is made up of peoples of common origin, the same long historical past – thousands of years, the same cultural values, a certain degree of kinship, a similar physical appearance, a typical physiognomy, a common language and common ancestors. Example: Roma people – Gypsies – have been an ethnic group for over 1000 years since they arrived in Europe, adding several thousand years of existence in India) From an ethnical point of view, Roman Catholics from Moldavia can only be either Romanian or Hungarian, or another ethnic group from the known and unanimously accepted (for example: German, Slavic, Chinese, etc.) but all historical, cultural, ethnographic and biological evidence (DNA tests) show that the so-called “Csangos” are Romanians.
    See more at http://www.asrocatolic.ro/english.htm

  • Dumitru

    There is not exist csango ethnicity.
    Roman Catholics from Moldova are incomplete Magyarized Romanians departing from their villages in Transylvania and settled in Moldova.
    Most of them are not even a little Magyarized.
    Most speak only Romanian.
    The popular port, the folklore, their dances, are all Romanian.
    The traditions of the csangos and the popular architecture are all Romanian.
    DNA tests are the best evidence of a person’s belonging to an ethnic group.
    It is not a surprise that DNA tests showed that the csangos are Romanian.
    Draw your own conclusions by checking the specialized sites on genetics.
    Some tests were performed by the University of Budapest. Even they recognize this truth.
    Links can be found here
    Those who claim to be csangos to take the DNA test.
    They will be surprised to find out that they are Romanians.
    An ethnic group cannot suddenly appear, only on the basis of the statements of the Szekler priest Péter Zöld.
    An ethnic group is made up of people who have a common origin, the same long historical past (thousands of years), have the same cultural values, a certain degree of kinship, a similar physical appearance, a typical physiognomy, a common language and common ancestors.
    An example is the ethnic group of Roma – Gypsies – who have been an ethnic group for over 1000 years since they arrived in Europe, to which are added several thousand years of existence in India.
    Roman Catholics in Moldova do not have a millennial historical past, separate from the Romanian people, they have the same cultural values as Romanians, DNA tests show that they are related to Romanians, they have a similar appearance to Romanians, the typical Romanian physiognomy, they speak the Romanian language, the popular port it is Romanian, their traditions are Romanian and the folklore is identical to that of the Orthodox Romanians.
    If some of the Roman Catholics still use in their language, Hungarian words, as a result of the Magyarization of the ancestors and the transmission of the language through lively language, does not mean that they are Hungarians.
    This language (spelling) was transmitted only verbally, Roman Catholics not knowing how to write Hungarian words, they also use Romanian words in combination with Hungarian ones.
    This language is different from one locality to another.
    See more at http://www.asrocatolic.ro/english.htm

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