Remembering Ancestors: Commemorative Rituals and the Foundation of Historicity

Burials and commemoration rituals in modern Romania, based on a mixture of Orthodox Christian and folkloric elements, serve to incorporate people and communities into a "transcendental unity of the temporal continuum." They encompass both the cult of the recent dead in periodic post-funeral rituals, extending for seven years after an individual's death, and the ancestor cult, the main form of which is the ceremony of 'mosi,' which symbolically asserts the presence of ancestors among the living. The sense of history in oral culture serves to create a sense of identity and a critical view of the past, using the knowledge of ancestors for present purposes, and a function of memorialization, or the fundamental human need of unforgetting.