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‘’Ecole - Patrimoine - Esprit Initiative Touristique - Europe ‘’ nr. 11-PM-243-DJ-IT “TRAIAN VUIA” HIGH SCHOOL- CRAIOVA” Christmas in Romania. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.

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‘’Ecole - Patrimoine - Esprit Initiative Touristique - Europe ‘’nr.11-PM-243-DJ-IT“TRAIAN VUIA” HIGH SCHOOL- CRAIOVA”Christmas in Romania

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.

This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Christmas customs and traditions in Romania

Traditions and folk customs, grouped around the winter solstice (20th of December – 7th of January), are generically called winter holidays.

This period is opened and closed by holidays prefaced by their eves, both Christmas and Epiphany being crossed by the New Year's Eve.

The main holidays of the winter cycle – Christmas, New Year’s Day and Epiphany – have functioned as independent moments for the renewal of time and the beginning of a new year.

Christmas– The Nativity of Jesus.

Christmas holiday represents for the christian people the birth of Jesus Christ, a reason for joy and hope.

Every year we relive the feeling of birth, the moment of the announcement by the angels and we open our souls and minds to hear once again the magic story.

For linguists, the word Christmas is considered a controversial word. Some say that it comes from the Latin word “creationem” (“creation, birth”).

Others consider that it is a much older word, Thracian, before the Romanization of Dacia, while others think it comes from Slavic.

In Romanian the word Christmas has at least eight meanings.

In Romania, Christmas is preceded by the Advent, that lasts for six weeks, starting on November 15th and ending on the 24th of December. During the Advent it is forbidden to eat meat, eggs and milk.


From Christmas Eve until the New Year’s Day people singing carols leave in procession, stop at people’s houses to announce the birth of Jesus and make them wishes of health and wealth. These carols are folk creations with text and melodies (songs) that contain special messages (religious or satirical to those who are ugly).

As a reward for announcing the birth of Jesus the carol singers receive all sorts of gifts: cakes, apples, nuts and, more recently, money. If the carol singers are teenagers or adults, local alcoholic drinks are received as well.

There is little difference, the carols are almost the same in all the regions of the country, the most famous being: “Oh,what wonderful news”, “The Star”, “Three shepherds”, “To Vifleim there- down”, “Christmas song”, “Last night, at dusk”.


Many people think that by going from house to house to sing carols (them or at least someone from the house) they will be blessed all the year. It is also said that if you receive carol singers the year will be rich and the people from the house will be healthy. There are a lot of houses where the first expected visitor is a boy/manin order to have a good year.

Christmas in the Romanian family

In Romania Christmas is first the moment when all the family members gather. In the morning the first who wake up are the children to see the presents from Santa. This is followed by a breakfast with the entire family.After this all the family goes to church to attend the Christmas religious service. They return cheerful to their homes and give alms -a plate of pork steak.

Christmas traditional food in Romania

On the 20th of December, on Ignatius, the people sacrifice pigs and prepare traditional Christmas products so that on the 25th of December they will have on the table traditional dish (plates): sausages, liverwurst, mosaic salame, steak, the alms pig (pork with onion and lard), forcemeat rolls is cabbage meat, aspic of pig’s trotters, cracklings, lard (bacon), ham. Some of these are smoked.

Christmas traditional food at the Romanians

The traditional Christmas cake is the sponge cake.

The traditional drinks for Christmas in Romania are: boiled plum brandy with pepper and a little sugar, boiled wine with cinnamon and different other aromatic plants, both served in clay cups to keep the flavor of the drinks.

The Christmas tree

The fir tree- as the tree that needs to be decorated before the birth of Jesus- was chosen because it remains green all the year. It symbolizes Christ, forever alive.

The custom in Romania is to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus is known by children as a chubby old man with red clothes, who lives in Finland. He travels in a sleigh pulled by reindeers and he brings presents to the children, by going down the chimneys.

In Romania children receive presents and sweets which they find in the morning, under the tree.

Other customsOther customs are those of going with the goat or men wearing a motley costume and masked as an animal or bird dancing in front of the peasants’ houses, playing the buffoon. The same as at the other games with masks practiced during the winter holidays, at the goat game, beside the classical masks, have found place the devil masks and old men masks that through yells, shouts and funny movements increase the humor and the happiness of all the feast, sometimes giving a touch of the grotesque. “The goat” is played to bring luck and wealth.

  • “The goat” is, in fact, a masked man, hidden under a large costume, that keeps above his head a stick  and on the top of it is designed a goat head.

  • The lower jaw of the goat  is mobile, so the mouth  can open and close and make a special noise. Around the goat other carol singers sing and dance, some of them being instrumentalists with accordion,  flute, drums or even violin.

“The star” is a carol which begins at the first Christmas night and ends at Epiphany.

Children going around with the star, an old custom found at all the Christians.

This custom wants to remind us of the star which announced the birth of Jesus Christ and guided The Three Enchanters (kings).

  • The habit of walking with “The bear”  comes from a Dacian cult that symbolizes the fertilization ,and both soil and household purification.

  •                         The bear is embodied by a young man  wearing on his head, on his shoulders and on his rear the fur of such an animal and aroud his ears red tassels.

  •                         “The bear” is accompanied by a group of masked carol singers representing various animals or characters that stir the bear up.

In the end, everyone wishes to all the hosts health, happiness, rich crops, rich meals and a Happy New Year.

Did you know that?

TheRomanian Orthodox Church is a Church with an apostolic origin founded through the missionary work of St. Andrew the Apostle who preached the word of the Gospel even in the ex Roman province, Scythia Minor,the territory between the Danube and the western part of the Black Sea, the actual Dobrogea.

On the 25th of April 1885, the Romanian Orthodox Church became autocephalus (independent), and on the 25th of February 1925 it was declared Patriarchate, being in a dogmatic, liturgical and canonical communion with the other Orthodox Churches Sisters.

According to the latest census (2002), 86.7% of the 21,794,793 inhabitants of Romania have declared themselves Christian Orthodox.

The traditional Christmas greeting is:




‘"Ecole - Patrimoine - Esprit Initiative Touristique - Europe ‘’nr.11-PM-243-DJ-IT

This Power Point was realised by the following students:

Gruev Francesca, Stănescu Sonia,Tuţă Bianca,Ciocoiu Luiza, Mandă Andreea.

Coordinating teachers:

Prof. Panait Gabriela

Prof. Popescu Cristiana

Prof. Țacu Dan

Prof. Tobă Camelia

Prof. Oprea Alina – project coordinator


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