Do you want to know how it was? Let’s see what John and Ana tell us about it.
Ana: When I was little my grandmother taught me that between Christmas and New Year you have to carve a short piece of wood into the shape of a goat head, which you decorate it then with crepe paper or colored decorations that imitate the animal’s skin.
John: Really? That’s really not that complicated. What can you do then with the costume?
Ana: You wear it and together with others dressed the same you do the goat dance.
Ana: You, John? What tradition do you have?
John: Since I was little I dressed as a bear, although I found it barbaric to do so. It is not exactly pleasant to wear the fur of a such big animal on your head and shoulders. To be honest, along the rattle of drums and song of the whistles I learned the dance of the bears. I also played the role of a bear cub, but from now on I have the role of a sturdier bear. With swinging steps while hitting strongly with the soles in the snow, I growl like a bear and help myself with a bludgeon stick.
Ana: Awesome John! Next year we change roles, you’ll be the goat and I will try to be the bear.
Ion: You don’t really now what you want, Ana!
Ana: Then we go with “Plugușorul” and “Sorcova”.
Ana: The countdown has begun and we are rapidly approaching the end of this year. Perhaps 2016 was a good year for you, perhaps even the opposite. Romanians know there is always room for improvement, so we present you seven traditions that we cherish for the next year. With their help we will step with the right foot in 2017 and we will have a prosperous year full of accomplishments.
The new year should catch you with both new clothes, in order to renew yourself from all points of view in the next 365 days, but also with a red clothing item. Red is considered a color that brings love, joy and energy.
Ana: How often were we told to wear something red when we want to have good luck?
Ion: Maybe too often.
Ana: I do not spare you from this advice either, mister. I prepared a red coat to keep me warm while we admire the fireworks and also one that embraces me with energy and love for the New Year.
The first guest of the house
The first guest in the house must be a male person with black hair. According to the tradition, black haired people bring luck and happiness, while blondes and redheads misfortune.
Ion: Ana, did you know that in the first day of the new year a brunette male should enter the house before anyone else?
Ana: So, when we get back from the party, I’ll let you first inside. I hope that you will bring me good luck and happiness, just like the tradition says.
Fish, not chicken
Poultry does not bring good luck in the new year’s eve. It is commonly associated with the birds that poke the soil and spread it. In this way the prosperity and the well being of the house will also be spread when people of the house eat poultry.
Ion: What did you cook for New Year’s eve? I hope it’s a delicious recipe with chicken.
Ana: No Ion, I cooked fish in the oven after the famous recipe of my mother. You really don’t know anything about New Year’s traditions? To ensure a smooth transition in the coming year you have to eat fish. It is meant to bring you prosperity.
An open door
In the new year’s eve you have to leave the door wide open in order to allow the old year to pass by while the new year makes its way to enter.
Ana: Do not forget to close the door after we leave to the party!
Ion: But it is midnight, we must leave the door open for the old year to get out and the new year to come in.
A lot of noise and fun
As in the play “Conu Leonida față cu reacțiunea” from Ion Luca Caragiale the new year’s eve should be greeted with much noise, either from fireworks, music or the joyful partygoers. These noises are meant to cast away evil spirits who want to enter the new year.
Ana: 5..4..3..2..1 HAPPY NEW YEAR !!! Come Ion, make some noise, let me hear your joy because we have to shun all the evil spirits, according to the tradition.
Money and debt
Before the new year’s eve we should get out of debt and try not to spend too much because it is said that these unpaid debts will follow us in the coming year and will influence our finances in a negative way.
Ion: I hope you have not spent money in the last day of 2016. It’s not recommended to spend too much on this day.
Ana: But you Ion, did you get out of debt? It’s not good to start the year with debts because you will be a debtor the whole year.
Nothing for disposal
In the first day of the new year you should not throw anything from the house, due to the fact that you will also throw away your luck.
Ana: Ion, do not throw the garbage today. We do not want to give out our look alongside with it.
It’s that time of the year again: the time to decorate our Christmas trees. In Romania the tradition of decorating the tree dates from the Dacian times, when it represented the wedding ritual between a deceased person and nature. Nowadays, however, the decoration of the Christmas tree brings the Christmas spirit closer to our hearts, thus becoming one of the most beloved customs. The fir tree, be it natural or artificial, is brought to the house and usually placed in the living room where it can be admired by both family and carolers. Later each branch is decorated with garlands, ornaments and red globes, gold or silver, and last but not least with brightly colored lights. Once placed on the tree, they are complemented by an angel or a star atop the tree, representing the symbols of Bethlehem. Therefore, now that the tree is decorated, the only thing left to do is to wait patiently for Santa!
Romania is a land with abounding traditions, even when it comes to the union of two soul mates: the wedding. One of the traditional customs that is specific to the Balkan area and especially to Romania, is the stealing of the bride or bride kidnapping.
According to the legend, after the founding of the city of Rome, Romulus wanted to attract also women within the fortress, so at the celebration of Consualia he invited the Sabines people, known for their beautiful women. During the festivities, the Romans attacked the Sabines, kidnapping their wives, daughters and sisters. Their action did not seek the offending of Sabines, but the union of the two nations, which eventually happened after a long war. Moreover, some say the tradition is descended from a barbaric custom from the migrating nations, when a rival who knew about the wedding, usually took his revenge on the groom by stealing his biggest asset. To redeem his wife and avoid her being dishonest, the husband had to pay large amounts of money.
Nowadays we cannot be talking about the same reasons. The custom is more likely a game in which the husband has to look for his bride and redeem her. Most brides are returned in exchange for amounts of alcohol, whiskey being preferred by the wedding guests. Some also say that if the bride is stolen until midnight, then the godfather of the couple must pay the ransom. However, if the kidnapping happens after 12, then the groom must regain his chosen one. In some areas of the country, sending the bride’s shoe is the kidnappers’ proof for the theft.
The day of Saint Andrew marks the beginning of winter on November 30, when according to the traditional beliefs, the governors of the wolves, Andrew and Peter, come down from heaven. Meanwhile the malefic forces of genies and wolves manifest themselves on earth.
Therefore over time there have been many customs and superstitions to protect the living from evil spirits that haunt this evening. In order to keep the evil in balance people resort to gestures that are meant to protect the household and the harvest or facilitate the marriage of maidens. One of those customs is the use of garlic to grease the doorstep, doors, windows and all places in which evil spirits could enter the house.
For marriageable girls the night of 29 to November 30 represents the only way to find out their destined husband. All the girls that put basil under the pillow before going to bed will dream their other half. This custom was preserved until nowadays having impact only in the so-called magical night.