Ethnic diversity and religious community of the Carpathians

ethnic diversity carpathian mtsIn the Carpathian region, it is often told a story about the woman who was born in the early 20th century in Austria-Hungary, in the 30’s she was married in Czechoslovakia, later lived in Hungary, where her first child was born. Her second child was born in the Soviet Union, and this woman died in the early 90’s in Ukraine. It’s an amazing fact, especially when taking into account that the woman spent all her life in one of the Carpathians villages.

The story of this woman is a striking demonstration of the violent past of the Carpathians. This area was constantly passed and divided between the various neighbouring countries. Thus an ethnic medley of different religions, languages and cultures was farmed.

About 75% of the local population is Ukrainian. They are followed by Hungarians (13%), Russians (4%), Romanians (3%), Slovaks (1%) and also emigrants from Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, Georgia and Armenia. Altogether there are 30 national groups. Bilingual city name boards, different languages in the markets and a variety of architectural styles only confirm the existence of this “multicultural” society.

A similar situation is observed in the case with religions. There are approximately 26 religious movements and confessions. The Orthodox Church has the largest community of believers. Autocephaly supporters stand up for the independently recognized Orthodox Ukrainian national church with its own patriarch. Also there are the Protestant and the Catholic Churches in the region. Within the frame of the last both the Roman Catholic and the Greek Catholic branches function. The Greek Catholic church is also called the Byzantine-Ukrainian or Unite church. Both Catholic branches subject to the Pope, however, they have their own bishops and liturgy.

Jewish culture prospered before the World War II. The spiritual centre of the Jews was the town of Mukachevo; in general there were more than a dozen synagogues and institutions for training rabbis known inside and outside the region. By 1944 Jews made 40% of the town population. In general, up to date they number 14% of population around the region. Holocaust almost exterminated this prospering culture.

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