I found this website, called Why Christmas. As far as I can tell, I really like it. I like it for the following reasons:
1. I actually think it is an outreach website, telling the true stories behind Christmas and Christ’s birth. However, my disclaimer is that I just recently found this website and have only read a few of the pages and links.
2. My family is multicultural and we represent many different holiday traditions.
3. We are moving overseas next month, soon to be learning new traditions.
All that to say, here are a few of the fun tidbits I found on this website.
In Romania, Christmas and mid-winter celebrations last from 20th December to 7th January. The 20th is when people in Romania celebrate St. Ignatius’s Day. It is traditional that if the family keep pigs, one is killed on this day. The meat from the pig is used in the Christmas meals.
The Christmas celebrations really begin on Christmas Eve, 24th, when it’s time to decorate the Christmas Tree. This is done in the evening of Christmas Eve. In Romanian Christmas Eve is called ‘Ajunul Craciunului’.
Carol singing (known as ‘Colindatul’) is also a very popular part of Christmas in Romania. On Christmas Eve children go out carol singing from house to house performing to the adults in the houses. They normally dance as well. The children get sweets, fruit, traditional cakes called ‘cozonaci’ and sometimes money for singing well. Adults go carol singing on Christmas Day evening and night.
A traditional Romanian Carol is the ‘Star Carol’. The star is on a pole and made of colored paper, often decorated with tinsel, silver foil and sometimes bells. In the middle of the star is a picture of baby Jesus or a nativity scene. Carol singers take the star with them when they go carol singing. The words of the Star Carol are:
“The star has appeared on high,
Like a big secret in the sky,
The star is bright,
May all your wishes turn out right.”
Other popular carols to sing include ‘Oh, What Wondrous Tidings’ (‘O, ce veste minunata’) and ‘Three Wise Men coming from the East’ (‘Trei Crai de la rasarit’).
In many parts of Romania, it’s also traditional that someone dresses up as a goat, with a multicolored mask, and goes round with the carol singers. The goat is known as the ‘Capra’ and it jumps and dances around getting up to lots of mischief!
Another Christmas Eve tradition is a drumming band or ‘dubasi’. This is normally made up of un married-men. A band can up to 50 or 60 men in it! As well as the drums there’s often a saxophone and violin. The band will practice for about a month before Christmas so they are really good! The go round the streets and are given presents.
In Romanian, Merry Christmas is ‘Crặciun Fericit’. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.
In Romania Santa Claus is known as ‘Moş Crăciun’ (Old Man Christmas), ‘Moş Nicolae’ (Old Man Nicholas) & ‘Moş Gerilă’ (Old Man Frost).
Traditional Romanian Christmas foods include Roast Gammon and Pork Chops (made from the killed pig!), ‘Ciorba de perisoare’ which is a slightly sour vegetable soup made with fermented bran and pork meatballs; ‘Sarmale’ cabbage leaves stuffed with ground pork and served with polenta; ‘Cozonac’ a rich fruit bread; Romanian doughnuts called ‘gogosi’ and cheesecakes.
New Years Eve is also an important celebration in Romania. It’s sometimes called Little Christmas. Traditionally a small, decorated plough called a ‘Plugusorul’ is paraded through the streets on New Years Eve. It is meant to help have good crops for the following year.
On New Years Day, children wish people a Happy New Year while carrying around a special bouquet called a ‘Sorcova’. Traditionally, the Sorcova was made of twigs from one or more fruit trees like apple, pear, cherry or plum. They’re put into water in a warm place on 30th November, so they hopefully come into leave and blossom on New Years Eve! Nowadays often a single twig of an apple or pear tree is used and it’s decorated with flowers made from colored paper.
Enjoy looking around this website and let me know what other fun things you discover!