Tradition Culture Romania

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Within South Eastern Europe however, Romania preserved a significant number of traditional customs and celebrations manifest within the strong community of the village. Ceremonies dedicated to the significant moments of one's life (birth, wedding, death), to natural cycles (such as solstice, equinox, harvest, springtime) or to the big religious celebrations, follow the same archaic mythical rituals they did a thousand years ago. Even though preformed at the end of the 20th century in villages marked by modernization, such traditional rites haven't diminish their prestige. They still provide viable answers to how to live in harmony with the environment and community, that the present social and economical system cannot furnish. As a result of the historical time we live, most forms of traditional community life slowly vanished from the post-industrial civilizations of this century.
During winter solstice, when the sun is weak and frost and dryness take over, Romanian peasants conceived ceremonies to help the Sun and Nature to overcome this "temporary crisis." For 12 days between Christmas and St. John on January 7th, all Romanian villages have specific celebrations, starting with children's caroling on Christmas eve: Mos Ajun or Buna Dimineata (Good Morning).
Well spread throughout Romanian countryside is the caroling of the Ceata de feciori (the Young Fellows Crew). In Transylvania, Banat, Maramures, and also in Wallachia and Dobruja, young bachelors in groups of 6 to 25, go caroling around the village for 3 days. Irrespective of the time of the day, they are expected by the villagers with lots of food and their porch lights on at night time. These carols are considered to be some of the most valuable works of poetry in Eastern Europe.
New Year's is another period of festivities. Augural time, the night of December 31st puts forth dances with masks, divination, foretelling, and magic. The caroling repertoire is vast. Besides ritual songs such as Plugusor (little plough), Buhai (traditional drum), Capra (goat dance), Ursul (bear dance), there are carols for each category of individuals within the community (old, very young, young, newly weds, ready to marry, young parents, families without children, etc), for each profession (shepherd, farmer, bucket makers, soldiers), or for specific regions (such as Jiu dwellers). In certain villages, we can find gatherings as large as 100 people of smaller young fellows' crews singing together on the streets (Bukovinan Malanca). In Moldova, the choreography, costumes and ritual dances during the caroling festivities represent a genuine work of art.
Running parallel to the public communal festivities, specific rites go on in private houses. Young women get together to guess about their future husband, and old people make prognoses according to the less conventional "onion calendar."
Children themselves perform specific carols: Sorcova, when they touch older family members with a stick adorned with artificial flowers and wish them good health and prosperity in the coming year, or Semanat (Tilling), when they symbolically toss wheat grains in people's yards to get good harvests during that year.
April and May festivities are connected to agricultural or sheep raising practices: Tilling Day (Maramures) or Choosing of the King (Transylvania), celebrating the first farmer to finish tilling and sowing. Similarly, Sheep Day or Milk Measuring celebrations (Banat and Transylvania) mark the moving of the sheep flocks up on the mountain to spend the summer.
Around the summer solstice and coinciding with the Christian celebrations of Rusalii (Pentecost) and St. John Day's, Romanians traditionally practiced two ritual ceremonies dedicated to good crops and land fertility: Calusul, a dance performed by a special group of men (esp. in the Olt region and Wallachia) and Sanzienile and Dragaica, the Romanian versions of Midsummer's Day, with ritual dancing and singing by a group of young girls.
Harvesting is another time of celebration, thanksgiving, and preparation for the next crop. A symbolic wheat crown or braid is put in a special place next to the icons, their grains being later mixed with next crop's seeds. In the Saxon land, such a harvesting festivity is knows as Chirvai (kir-vy): a time when the community drinks from the sweet grape juice, parties, feasts and dances.
Other types of festivities are Hramuri and Nedei. An old tradition from Moldova and Northern Transylvania, hramuri represents the day to celebrate the patron saint of a particular church. Closer or more remote villages come in a procession to that church, while the hosting village organizes a big communal feasts. September 8th, the hram of St Mary, is the day when the caldarari Roma get together to the church of Costesti (Valcea county) and when they also delimit their clans and territories and display their possessions.
Nedei are a sort of regional fares from South Western Transylvania, Banat or Gorj, mostly determined by the church procession (hram). People get together to exchange their produce and to celebrate for a day. Originally these gatherings took place outside villages, at major crossroads on higher plateaus. There are two places where such Nedei still take place independent of a church procession: on Gaina Mountain on July 20 and on Penteleu Mountain on June 24.


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