Since ancient times, our ancestors were closely connected with the nature that surrounded them, with animals, which they endowed with special supernatural properties.
Of great importance among the Turkic tribes was the wolf. Nomads often came across this clever, dexterous beast. The wolf symbolizes freedom, independence, fearlessness, devotion, justice. That is why the meeting with the wolf seemed to the Turks as a symbol of a good omen.
And today, as well as many years ago, the wolf is a revered animal. The ancient beliefs of the Gagauz say that the wolf is not subject to extermination and the attitude towards this beast should be respectful.
In honor of the wolf, the Gagauzians held special holidays. The most famous today is the “Wolf festival”, or its ancient name “Janavar Yortulari”. This holiday does not imply any entertainment, but contains some prohibitions and actions. For example, the use of sharp objects, including needles, axes, knitting needles, knives, is not recommended on the Wolf’s Feast, and it was also impossible to do what was connected with wool – to sew, comb, knit, embroider. In ancient times, of course, everyone followed such recommendations, and even made special cakes that were smeared with honey and presented to neighbors. This, in its own way, meant offering to the wolf.
Gagauz is in many ways a very mysterious people who, without their own writing, for centuries managed to preserve their language, culture and rich folk art.Gagauz are Turkish Christians who live in the northern part of the central Bujak steppe. Today, there are about 155,600 Gagauz people living in Moldova, and about 40,000 more live in the neighboring Odessa region of Ukraine. In addition, Gagauz live in Russia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Romania.
The history of the emergence and formation of the Gagauz people is not particularly known. Most historians tend to believe that the first known region of Gagauz appearance is the Dobrudzhi and Deliorman area in northeastern Bulgaria. In addition, there, in the territory of Bulgaria in the Varna region, in the 18th century there was a Gagauz Republic, as evidenced by written sources.
After the end of the Russo-Turkish War and the conclusion of peace in 1812, Bessarabia became part of the Russian Empire. Russian Tsar Alexander I authorized all Christians who wanted to leave Dobrudzha, now could settle in new territories of Russia, located in Bujak – the historical region of southern Bessarabia.
In the middle of the 19th century, as a result of the Crimean War, the southern Priprutje and the settlements of the present district of Vulkenesta, moved to the principality of Moldova. This, in turn, led to the migration of the Gagauz population to today’s confines of the region of Ukraine.
The Gagauz of the Bujak steppe in the 19th and 20th centuries did not remain passive in the whirlwind of social and political changes taking place in the Russian Empire. Gagauz has always sought their own self-determination. Therefore, during the revolution of 1905 – 1907, the Gagauz rebelled for their national and social independence and proclaimed the Comrat Republic. However, the uprising was suppressed by the authorities.
The Gagauz people participated in the Crimean War of 1854 – 1856, in the Russo-Japanese War 1904 – 1905, in the First World War. At the end of the First World War, the Gagauz also sought to establish their autonomy, but this process was suppressed by the new Romanian authorities.
In 1988, the Gagauz intelligentsia, along with other ethnic minorities, created the Gagauz Hakli National Movement, which fought for the independence of the Gagauz people. In August 1990, the establishment of the Gagauz Republic was declared in Komrat, but the Moldovan government did not recognize the declaration. Only in 1994, on December 23, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova recognized the status of autonomy of Gagauzia. Today this date is a Gagauz national holiday.
Today, Gagauzia is divided into three districts: Komratsky, Chadir-Lungand and Vulkanessht, which comprise two municipalities – Komrat and Chadir-Lunga, the cities of Vulkenesta and Congaz, as well as 27 villages. The administrative part of the region is located in the municipality of Komrat. The highest official of Gagauzia is Bashkan, who is a member of the Moldovan Government and is elected for a term of four years. The representative and legislative body is the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia (Halk Toplushu).
Today, the economy of Gagauzia consists mainly of the agro-industrial sector, most of the territory is in gardens and vineyards. In recent years, the services sector, light and food industries have grown.