3rd Degree Scientific Researcher, PhD, “C. S. Nicolăescu Plopşor” Institute for Research in Social Studies and Humanities of the Romanian Academy, Craiova;
In the villages from Oltenia, the entering into the world of the living of a new member of the family is supervised by the midwife, the great initiate. The midwife is, above all, a mediator. At birth, she performs the sacred and the profane acts, meant to bring into this world the new-born child, to integrate him into the family, kin and community, to guarantee the mother and child’s health. Her attributions are complex: she assists the woman for the delivery, the midwife takes the baby away from the mother, tells the father the sex of the child, cuts the umbilical cord, gives the baby the first ritual bath, lays the table for the fate fairies, she takes care of the food and hygiene of mother and child.
The competences of the midwife do not cease in the moment of birth, where she has certain ceremonial roles: she gives the child a new set of clothes, she carries the baby until the Church, she brings the baptising water, she kneels when the priest blesses the “midwife’s water”.
Oltenia, the traditional village,institution represented by the midwife, mediator, ritual acts.