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Romanian Customs and Traditions

From lovely groups of children singing carols from door to door to


mouthwatering dishes and various odd habits, the homeland of Dracula and other cool
things youve probably never heard of is kind of a truly amazing place to spend
Christmas.
Some of these customs and traditions are old, unusual, and authentic; others
borrowed from overseas; but, together, they dress up Romania in bright holiday clothes,
offering it a unique identity and a special charm during the holidays.
Christmas season in Romania kicks off with a series of wonderful celebrations
right after St. Andrews Day (November 30), when according to local legends, vampires
and evil spirits come to light. Other major holidays taking place during the Advent
include Romanias National Day (December 1st) and St. Nicholas (Mos Nicolae), when
all children receive gifts.
Christmas Fasting (Postul Craciunului)
Romanians are religious people and they usually practice fasting throughout the
year, each Monday and Friday, by abstaining from eating animal products. The Christmas
fast begins on November 14th and ends on December 24th. According to Orthodox
religion, during these 40 days preceding Christmas, nobody is allowed to eat meat, eggs,
or milk, with few exceptions when fish is permitted (St Ignatius).
St. Nicholas (Sf. Nicolae)
Especially appreciated among children, St. Nicholas is celebrated on December
6th with great fanfare and plenty of gifts. On Saint Nicholas Eve all the children clean
their boots, place them at the door (or window), and go to sleep waiting for Mos Nicolae
to fill them with plenty of gifts. In the morning, the most obedient of them will discover
lots of sweets tucked into their shoes, while the naughty ones will only find the symbolic
rod.
Pig Slaughter (Taierea porcului)
Pig slaughter is not actually that kind of national custom that one might be proud
of, but is a long-lasting Christmas tradition that Romania keeps stubbornly. Each year, on

Ignat Day (St. Ignatius), on December 20th, Romanian families, especially those in the
countryside, sacrifice their pig in order to have a rich meal for Christmas. It sounds cruel,
I know, and it actually is, but behind this horror theres a very complex ceremony which
has been part of the local customs for as long as history can record.
It all starts early in the morning with the killing itself and continues with a series
of proceedings through which all the meat is carefully prepared. From the fat melting to
the preparation of sausages, one thing is for sure Romanians really know how to cook
the entire pig, without losing anything.
Family Reunion
In Romania, Christmas has always been a great opportunity for family members
to get together in order to spend some time in the warm, loving, and cozy atmosphere of
their home. A large part of Romanias population lives outside the country and those who
dont are usually trying to make a better living by working in large cities, away from their
families.
However, during Christmas, most of Romanian houses are filled with neighbors,
relatives, and good will a pleasant comfortable jamboree where everyone giggles,
dances, cooks, and tells stories, not to mention the carol singers constantly knocking at
the door. Its a chance for any family member to recharge their batteries and to create
memories that will keep them warm throughout the year to come.
Romanian Carols (Colinde)
Probably the best part of a Romanian Christmas is the laborious, magical suite of
carols that can be heard all over the country during this wonderful time of year, from the
cobbled paths of the most remote villages to the classiest venues in the capital.
Often accompanied by wishes for health, prosperity, and fulfillment, Romanian carols are
far from being just simple Christmas songs. They usually come together with rituals,
special costumes and tools, as well as peculiar theatrical performances, generating a
genuine spectacle. Some of the most popular are Steaua (the Star boys singing
procession), Capra (The Goat), and Plugusorul.
Overall, Romanian Christmas carols whether religious songs, pure folklore, or
theatrical performances are all wonderful.

Further Christmas traditions and customs in Romania include the decorating of


Christmas Tree, which is usually made by the whole family a couple of days before
Christmas; the arrival of Santa Claus with his bag full of gifts, a practice that takes place
on Christmas Eve; the decorating of each city with millions of glowing lights; and, of
course, the charming Christmas Markets sprinkled all over the country.
Although this is a relatively new practice in Romania, it has enjoyed a resounding
success, becoming an important part of Christmas. The most beautiful Christmas markets
in Romania can be found in the medieval cities of Transylvania, including Sibiu, Brasov,
and Cluj, but Bucharest Christmas Fair is worth checking out, too.
These are just a few of some of the most popular Christmas
traditions in Romania, but the real spectacle takes place in the
countryside, where each region features its own parade of folklore, old
customs, traditions, and festivals a truly authentic experience for
anyone visiting my country during the winter holidays.