Posted by: The project team | December 14, 2010

Romanian Winter Season Traditions

In Romania, the winter holiday season is truly in full-swing from December 24 to January 7. Highlights include: Christmas Day, New Year and Epiphany, with their respective eves. The most important feature of these celebrations is their unique variety of colorful Romanian customs, traditions, and believes, of artistic, literary, musical, and other folklore events, which make the winter holidays some of the most original and spectacular spiritual manifestations of the Romanian people.
Five days before Christmas, on 20th of December, a very sharp knife is used to cut the pig in the honor of Saint Ignatius and this ritual is known as ‘Ignatius’ too after him.

Christmas in Romania is a great fun time with lots of unique customs and traditions. Romanians decorate their houses, go shopping, bake cookies and cakes, send Christmas cards, and decorate the Christmas tree during Christmas. Children go out skiing or sledding. They like to make snowballs and snowmen, but mostly they like to wait for Santa Claus to give them presents. Christmas in Romania is known as Craciun and Santa Claus is called Mos Craciun.

The Christmas tree is decorated on Christmas Eve with walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, candies, apples and chocolates wrapped in colored paper. A special cake, the delicious Turta, is made for Nosterea Domnului Isus, or Christmas Eve(The Birth of Jesus Christ). It is composed of thin layers of rolled dough that represents the swaddling clothes of the Christ Child.

Some traditional foods of Christmas in Romania that are a must have during this season are:

Ciorba de perisoare – a slightly sour vegetable soup made with fermented bran and pork meatballs.

Sarmale – Sour cabbage leaves stuffed with ground pork and served with polenta.

Roast pork – pork garnished with pickled vegetables or mixed salads.

Carols form an important part of Christmas in Romania. Romanian carols are a sort of invocation in verse sung by children and lads, on the evening of Winters Holidays. Children of all ages go from house to house singing Christmas carols, or through the streets on New Year’s Eve reciting congratulatory verse. The whole traditional village participates in waists, although mostly children practice this custom.

 Traditionally, during the first hours after dark on Christmas’ Eve is the time for children to go caroling and the adults stay home to greet them. As they go caroling from house to house, the children receive treats like candy, fruit, baked treats and sometimes even money in appreciation of their performance and as a sign of holiday good will.

The grown-ups caroling goes on Christmas evening and night. The waits -young and mature people – gather in groups and they choose a leader. When they are in the front yard of a house, they perform their repertory to the host. The songs are always accompanied by dance. When the performance is over, the host invites the carolers inside the house for food, drinks and presents.

Children make a star using colored paper and then they put in its middle an icon of Jesus. Many of children decorate their star using shiny tinsel.  The “Star Carol” is a tradition during the 3 days of Romanian Christmas.

While holding the star in the hands the children sing:

“The star has appeared on high, /Like a big secret in the sky, /The star is bright, /May all your wishes turn out right…” 

Throughout the season, teenagers and young adults especially enjoy caroling with the “Goat”. The “Goat” is actually a usually boisterous young person dressed up in a goat costume. The whole group dances through the streets and from door to door, often with flute music. This tradition comes from the ancient Roman people and it reminds us of the celebration of the ancient Greek gods. 

This custom is also called “brezaia” in Wallachia and Oltenia, because of the multicolored appearance of the goat mask. The goat jumps, jerks, turns round, and bends, clattering regularly the wooden jaws.

Throughout the season, teenagers and young adults especially enjoy caroling with the “Goat”. The “Goat” is actually a usually boisterous young person dressed up in a goat costume. The whole group dances through the streets and from door to door, often with flute music. This tradition comes from the ancient Roman people and it reminds us of the celebration of the ancient Greek gods. 

This custom is also called “brezaia” in Wallachia and Oltenia, because of the multicolored appearance of the goat mask. The goat jumps, jerks, turns round, and bends, clattering regularly the wooden jaws.

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