Letea, the picturesque village on the same name in the Danube Delta, is inhabited by the descendants of the Zaporojan Cossacks who fled here in the early 18th century. The fugitives, called haholi, that is, Ukrainians from Austria-Hungary, came to the island with their customs with everything, reports the Adevarul newspaper.
The Zaporojen Cossacks fled to the virgin lands of the Danube Delta after the Battle of Poltava in 1709 when Tsar Peter the Great won the fight against Carol XII of Sweden and began reprisals against those who were on the side the Scandinavian king who demanded the release of Ukraine. The second wave of refugees arrived in the area after 1775, when Catherine Ecaterina II abolished the Ukrainian army with its center in Zaporozhye. Historians say that the Hahols, who were crawling from the Ukrainian Cossacks from the Dnieper and who had fled from Russia’s invasive expansionism, originally settled in the Danube Delta, where they tried, and in some places succeeded, chase the Lipovans, coming in turn from the Russian space. They were engaged in fishing and were very good boat builders. Numerically, these populations were low. For example, in the middle of the nineteenth century, the Lipovans were 770 families, Hahols – about 1,000 families.
The Haholites chose Letea because the area was similar to the one they left behind, the Dnieper. It was a virgin territory: only forest and water. In Letea, most of the houses preserve the tradition of the first haholi who have set foot here. Antonel Pocora explains how to build such houses: four wooden poles in four corners are knocked and then buried in the ground. They are the pillars of the house. The walls are lined with reed, and the bottom of the house is dressed in plank and then painted in blue or green. The roof is necessarily made of reed, the traditional material of the Danube Delta. From the “Anthropological Studies in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve”, coordinated by the Danube Delta Research and Design Institute, we find that in Letea, the choice of the place where a new house was to be built was not done anyway. At the four corners were a few grains of wheat. If they were found the next morning, they were clean, “the place was clean”, but if the wheat was broken, it was a bad sign, or another place was chosen, or jobs were being carried out to cast out evil spirits. When the first fork was struck, the masters of the house were holding it by it, and money was deposited among the stones thrown at the foundation. When the house was almost raised, a wooden cross, money, flowers, and wiping were climbing to the roof. The locals of Letea are Orthodox in old style. They have the same Orthodox calendar celebrations, but they celebrate 13 days late with those on the new rite. The Zaporozhians in Letea state that they do not want to be assimilated with the Lipovets of Sfiştofca, a neighboring village, or Moldovans from C.A. Rosetti, the commune belonging to the two villages, being different from them.
The village of Letea had several names. Initially, he was called “Nedilchioi”. The old name of the village of Letea is of Turkish origin and comes from the words “köy”, which means village, and Nedil, after the name of a passport, governor of the delta. The current name, Letea, is more controversial. Legend of the place says that Nedil had a girlfriend who lived in these places, which Lete called. She was so in love with her, that she decided that the town should have his name, and Letea appeared. Another hypothesis says the name is of glorious origin, meaning summer dwelling or a place where cows go to grazing in summer. Besides, the locality appears on a French map dating from 1800 named Lete. In 1900, in the work “Dobrogia on the threshold of the twentieth century”, written by Captain M.D. Ionescu, member of the Romanian Geophysical Society, the locality appears with the current name, Letea. He also speaks of the Letea Forest, which is “10 feet above sea level”: “The Letea brook extends from Periprava from the Chilia branch along the entire island to the Sulina branch. On this hill is also the famous forest Letea, very long, which once was only oak, but which today is more than poplars. The villages on this big grind are Periprava, Sfiştofca, Satul Nou and Letea “. Captain M.D. Ionescu, the author of the monumental work on Dobrogea, also makes a short description of the area and the people living here: “All the towns and villages along the Danube use the water from it, as it is filled with all uncleanness, except for a small part of the inhabitants of the towns that are clear with sour stone. Alcoholism – this vice is dominated by the Russian and Leipzig populations, whose main occupation is fishing, from which good earnings are made and would gain even more if the agonized money for 3-4 months would not give the pub in 3 -4 days”