Christmas is the first celebration from the cycle of New Year celebrations. In Romania it is being celebrated after the new style at 25th December, and after the old one, at 7th January.
In rural areas there is no family which does not prepare itself for Christmas.
Regarding the Christmas holidays, the most wonderful tradition is caroling. The carols are songs with which the children, the young people and even the old people greet the coming of Christ on earth.
The provenance of the word carol is found in the Latin calendae. The name was given by Romans to the New Year pagan holidays. In that period the Romans’ children went from house to house singing hymns. During time the Latin tradition was taken and adapted to Christian religion.
The carols’ traditions includes songs of the star, the “vifleem”, the “plugusor”, the “sorcova”, the “vasilica”. There are also games with masks (the tipcat, the deer, brezaia), the folk theater, dances (horses, calusarii).
Between Christmas and Epiphany (God|’s baptism, 6th January) the carolers, walked with the star.
The symbolism of the carol with star recalls the star which proclaimed the Jesus birth. She guided the three magicians to find the crib in which the miracle happened. In our days one is going with the carol with star only in the first and second day of Christmas.
Those who walk with the star are singing carols. They recall the life of Lord or “star up rises” and “three magicians from the East”.
The romanian songs about the star come from different sources: orthodox byzantine world, catholic church world or cultural creations of our nation.
The star worn during carols time opportunity is made from easy wood and it has more corners. It is decorated with colored paper and has in the middle an icon representing the Mother’s Lord and Jesus Christ.
When children go with the star, they are sometimes accompanied by masked man who are also called “țahondre” or “turci” (in Ardeal). Those are adults or teenagers who can take care of the little carolers.
The group with the star pass the gates of the houses and ask:
“Do you receive with the star?”..”Do you receive with the star?”. Or: “Who receive/The beauty star/ And bright/ With many corners/ And small/ From the birth / Of Christ/ Gifted.”
The group singers is received in the house or in the garden and then the children start to sing carols.
At the end of the carol singing, the band of carolers will receive the reward. In the old times they were receiving bagels, nuts, apples, cake. Now they are rewarded with money.
When they leave the house in which they were received, the carolers say “We leave, God enters”.
In their journey through the village, the Turks group stop the people to ask about money. The stopped people, are giving them money for bringing them luck and to ward off evil spirits.
When people don’t receive carolers, they close the door or do not offer gifts, the magic effects are opposite, thus violating the rules of this traditions.
When two people are meeting in the period of The Christmas, one says: “Christ was born!” and the other replied “Indeed He was born”
The repertoire of the Romanian traditions includes traditions, practices, superstitions, advices with the origin in faith, ancient myths or Christians.
In the morning of Christmas it is good to wash the face with flowing water, taken from valley. In this we put a silver coin. We will be in this way cleaned as the silver, beware of sores and illness, which will go down the valley.
In many Romanian villages the people make the house thresholds with garlic. After that they go to animals and family members and anoint the forehead in the cross form. They think in this way that they will beware of ghosts and evil spirits all this new year.
In Christmas night, many people leave a burning candle (for many times at Jesus Icon), for luck to see the house in the darkness and to can enter within it.
The woman which make cakes for Christmas, goes in the garden and tell to every tree “apple, pear, be such fruitful like the dough on my hands.”
Also during Christmas night, the girls who want to know the future, put under the pillow they will sleep on, soap and comb. Thus they will dream the chosen one.
The girl who want to know if she is marrying the next year, must go outside in the night of Christmas Eve, and take a pile of chopped wood and put them under the table. After everybody finish to eat, the girl must count them. If the number is with pair, she is marrying the next year.
In the Christmas’ Eve and the following days, the man must beware not to argue, because the whole year will be in strife and reproach.
No cleaning is to be done in the day of Christmas. You don’t throw the trash, because in this way you banish luck.
- In Moldova, the Christmas’ Eve meal is not eaten, until it is consecrated by the village priest. Nobody is allowed to reveal the meal till the priest enters through door. The priest who consecrated the meal, it the first who tastes the food after that the house members.
The tradition of Christmas tree adornment overlapped on an old tradition, incineration of hub (dead god) in the night of Christmas. This tradition symbolizes the death and the rebirth of divinity and the year at the winter solstice. This tradition was certified at Romanians, Macedo, Serbo-Croatian and Latvian.
A well known tradition in Romania is “cutting the pig”. In some areas of the country, the pig is cut on Ignat holiday, namely on 20th December. They say that the pig which was not cut till that day it is not getting fat anymore, because he saw its knife. Every family of householders must cut the pig at Christmas.
The traditions and customs with the occasion of Christmas in Romania are plenty, but they differ depending on the folk region.