At the “Merry Cemetery” in the Maramures area of northern Romania, each brightly colored, carved wooden tombstone reflects the life and loves of the dearly departed. In these pictures, the shepherd still tends his flock, a bartender pours a pint, and somber farming couple shares a quiet moment in their orchard.

Some of the tombstones also relate the story of the grave’s occupant in Romanian with a kind of witty truthfulness. Here’s an example as reprinted in the Toronto Star:

“Here I rest.
Stefan is my name.
As long as I lived, I liked to drink.
When my wife left me,
I drank because I was sad.
Then I drank more
to make me happy.
So, it wasn’t so bad
that my wife left me,
Because I got to drink
with my friends.
I drank a lot,
and now, I’m still thirsty.
So you who come
to my resting place,
Leave a little wine here.”

Walking through the rows upon rows of elaborate tombstones, I understood that even after death, the members of this traditional, remote region remain a joyous community.

–Photos and text by Jennica Peterson, WT Photo Blog Editor, Great Carpathian Traverse

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