A Merry Cemetery, Romania

The Merry Cemetery from Sapanta (“Cimitirul Vesel” in Romanian) located in the Maramures region of Romania, is not boring, gray or depressing like other cemeteries that we know, but instead it has colorful painted tombstones and short funny poems about the life of the person buried there.

The wooden crosses are hand carved with chisels and painted with blue and vivid floral decorations. Each cross has a carved or painted photo of the deceased along with a funny epitaph about a specific moment in their life (the reason of their death, their profession, or their passion in life): farmers on tractors, women spinning yarn, shepherds with sheep on the field or teacher at his desk.

merry cemetery in SapantaNaive paintings and funny poems about the deceased

The cemetery dates from 1935 and the oak crosses are the result of a lifetime work and talent of Ioan Stan Patras (sculptor, painter and poet). He managed through his work to chase away the sadness and the darkness that death brings. He removed the drama, he mocked death with humor, focusing on the triumph of life.

colored slabs at merry cemetery in RomaniaDeipiction of a mother with her children (left cross) and woman in the household (right cross)

This is an example of a funny epitaph (translation from Wikipedia):

Romanian                                                English

Sub aceasta cruce grea                          Under this heavy cross
Zace biata soacra-mea                           Lies my poor mother in-law
Trei zile de mai traia                               Three more days she would have lived
Zaceam eu si cetea ea.                          I would lie, and she would read (this cross).
Voi care treceti pa aici                           You, who here are passing by
Incercati sa n-o treziti                            Not to wake her up please try
Ca acasa daca vine                               Cause’ if she comes back home
Iarai cu gura pa mine                            She’ll criticise me more.
Da asa eu m-oi purta                             But I will surely behave
Ca-napoi n-a inturna                             So she’ll not return from grave.
Stai aicea draga soacra-mea                Stay here, my dear mother in-law!

cimitirul vesel din SapantaColourful oak slabs, with floral borders and funny epitaphs

cruce cimitirul veselThis man loved his horses

woman spinning yarn at merry cemeteryWoman spinning yarn

sapanta,  the merry cemeteryA man on tractor can be seen painted on one of the tombstones

poza cruce cimitirul veselMan at the bar drinking ‘tuica’ (Romanian plum brandy)

the merry cemetery, cimitirul veselPortraits carved in the oak slabs