The large village of Kétegyháza lies in the area of the Békés-Csanád loess ridge and the Körös settling between the Körös and the Maros rivers. It has a warm and dry climate.
No natural water flow can be found on its puszta type territory, however the riverbeds that filled up the area, are typical of this landscape. The saliferous microforms can be traced back to the surface erosion of water. After the end of the nineteenth century, the natural levees were included in farming, and the grass-covered areas, southwest to the village, were ploughed up gradually. The north part of the grass area, still belonging to Kétegyháza, became protected in 1977: it became part of the Szabadkígyós Landscape Protection District. There are remaining steppe meadows on the ridges, and salt marshes, reeds, licks, and dry-stalk salt plants in the depressions.
Neolithic age is represented by the Tisza and Vinča culture, and Copper Age is represented by the Bodrogkeresztúr culture in the territory adjacent to the village. Next to the culture with pit-tombs, and tumuli, also the relics of the Sarmatian, Gepid, and Avar peoples can be found in the area of the village.
The name of the village, which belonged to the Zaránd county in the Middle Ages, first occurred in documents in 1412. According to linguists, the name refers to the fact that there used to be two churches here once. In addition to Elek Siket, the village was held by the Erdőhegyi family. In 1420, János Maróti, the landlord of the domain of Gyula, took it as a pledge. King Matthias donated it to János Corvin, his natural son in 1482. Ulászló II left it with Corvin’s widow, who married marquis György Brandenburgi. The domain in Gyula, with Kétegyháza in it, were managed by the constables and court judges of Gyula.
The people living in the village paid a war tax of 24 forints in 1526: Kétegyháza belonged to the wealthier communities. It got to the ownership of István Oláh around 1530, but it belonged to the castle of Gyula again after 1552. In 1557, the king donated it to Demeter Olcsarovics, the commander of the Gyula castle.
Miklós Kerecsényi fought a battle with the Turks at Kétegyháza on July 2, 1566, and when the castle of Gyula fell, the whole region remained under the rule of the Muslim occupants for 129 years: it became part of the nahije in Zaránd within the Gyula sandjak of the Temesvár vilajet. The village was one of the more populous settlements at the time.
It became depopulated during the wars that liberated the country from the Turks, and it became one of the Treasury properties. In 1700, Löwenburg was owned by Jakab János, who started a large-scale settlement campaign: this was the time when the people of Rumanian origin found their new home here. They are still dominant in the ethnic image of Kétegyháza: today this is the largest village in Hungary populated by Rumanians. In 1732, Löwenburg went to his son-in-law, count Antal Gaisruck. The Treasury took the domain back from him, and in 1741 sold it to Zsigmond Andrásy (1725–1750). The male line of the family died out in 1793, and the land areas got to Ignác Almásy (1751–1840). His son, Alajos made it his permanent dwelling place.
A committee with 25 members was formed in the village at a mass meeting held on April 2, 1848. The militia was organised with 49 members. Kétegyháza was represented by seven people in the standing committee of the county. The national guards served around Nagybecskerek. Four soldiers from Kétegyháza served in the voluntary battalion, which was established later with 387 persons. The village provided altogether 66 persons out of the 3326 soldiers of the county.
The state railway, started in 1858, was the most spectacular sign and promoter of bourgeois development. The transportation of goods and passengers gained significance year by year. The appearance of the railway ensured new job opportunities. The telephone started operate in the inner part of the settlement since 1884. Markets to be held once a week (on Monday) became regular after 1860.
The October revolution in 1918, and the collapse of the army caused confusion in Kétegyháza, as well. The warehouses of the railway were broken into. National conflicts became sharper. At the end of February 1919, the 6. division was formed in Kétegyháza, which defended the area from Arad to the line of the Tisza. After March 21, it had its headquarters in Kétegyháza for ten days. When the Red Army was formed, the red companies marched to their command post in Arad from Kétegyháza. On March 22, on the second day of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, the People’s Council and the five-member Directory were elected in the village. Following the evacuation of Arad, the Workers’, Soldiers’ and Farmer’s Council of Arad county escaped to Kétegyháza, and settled in the Almásy chateau, empty at that time.
The attack of the Rumanian army started on April 25, 1919, on Easter day. There was Rumanian public administration in our village until the end of March 1920. Most of the Rumanian population of the village followed the moderate Hungarian friendly politics of Beleş Vazul, Greek Orthodox priest. Only about seventy persons went to Rumania with the Rumanian troops.
After Trianon, the village got from the centre to the verge of the country. The international military frontier assessment committee drew the temporary frontier on July 3, 1920. The slowly awakening village soon after the great economic crisis in 1920 already suffered the hardships of the 2nd World War.
The Soviets occupied Elek on September 24, 1944. Their advanced guards also took Petőfitelep, which was part of Kétegyháza. The front line was drawn here for about two weeks. The general attack of the 2. Ukrainian front started in the morning of October 6, and it ended with the Russian occupation of the village.
The repartition of land – a long due reform step of the new social establishment – was postponed until 1947. A land area of 2073 cadastral acres was distributed between 452 persons. 442 people received plots of land for the purposes of house building in the vicinity of the chateau. The village council was formed in 1950. The Communist leaders were removed during the 1956 revolution. After the terror of the armed police force operating under the protection of the Soviet army, final “order” was created at the party meeting on March 8, 1957. That was the occasion when the local workers’ militia was created. The main task of power both in the countryside and Kétegyháza was to organise the co-operative movement – that is to force individual farmers into production co-operatives. During the consolidation period in the Kádár era, and especially in the 1960-ies and 1970-ies, the infrastructure of the settlement developed significantly: it embarked upon the road of urbanisation, which was not questioned by the change of the political system after 1990 either.
The Greek Orthodox Rumanian population, which was the majority in the village, settled in the first decades of the XVIII century, established their Greek Orthodox church probably as early as in 1718. Their fist church still existed in 1779, when their second new church was built next to it, still exiting today. The complete re-painting of the church was finished in 1998. The icons of the old iconostas, painted on canvas, were also replaced by new ones. A tradition was broken when frescos were created both on the inner walls and the ceiling of the church.
From an ecclesiastical point of view, the Rumanian Greek Orthodox church in Kétegyháza belonged to the Rumanian Orthodox bishopric
of Arad through the seniorate of Kisjenő, which meant that in belonged under the protopresbyterate of the Orthodox bishopric in Arad. Its canonical position became uncertain after 1920. It could not have an official connection with the Rumanian ecclesiastical authorities. After a period of uncertainty of twenty years, first the Rumanian Orthodox Consistory in Hungary was established in Gyula in 1946, and later the bishopric was created.
A typical characteristic of the traditional peasants’ culture in Kétegyháza was the fact that the folk culture of the Hungarians living here was not uniform from the very beginning due to the nature of the settlements. The Rumanian population, however, could preserve certain elements of their archaic folk culture until the middle of the XX century. The customs practised on the holidays could preserve the national identity of the majority of the population until today. This book introduces their rich collection; a set of traditions, alive in the community.