ROMA Nian tra ditions . The custom-a communication act.
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Winter holidays in Romania begin with the Christmas Post (15th November) and end with Saint John (7th January). It’s a rich period regarding the customs which are different from area to area, all surrounding the Christian holidays of this time of the year. The most important landmarks are: Christmas Post, Christmas, The New Year, The Epiphany (The Lord’s Christening) and Saint John. According to all these, the groups of customs and traditions are different.
The folklore grouped the calendaristic customs in four cycles which correspond to the four seasons: Spring traditions, Summer traditions, Autumn traditions and Winter traditions. The customs that are still performed on the Romanian territory and which are integrated in an interesting way in the contemporary culture are the New Year’s Eve customs, which have a lot of significances for our folkloric culture.
Christmas opens the cycle of the 12 days of New Year’ holidays. The caroling custom means going from house to house saying different wishes. It is performed especially in the New Year cycle, but it is indispensable in other contexts like The Gag. Carols are based on the coexisting principle and on the collective solidarity from our traditional villages: one for all and all for one.
· The Caroling is a scenario composed by ceremonial texts (carols), magic expressions, dances, gestures and it is performed inside the house or on the streets by a sacred group.In the folkloric calendar, this phenomenon is named differently: “The Star”, “The little Plow”, “Sorcova”. The carols transmit good wishes, of health, rich crops, the fulfillment of everyone’s wishes for the new year. Caroling is the widest tradition of Romanian people. When some people don’t receive the performers of carols in their homes, the magic effects are bad because they don’t obey the rules.The traditional rituals of winter holidays inherited from the oldest times are still performed in various ways, involving the whole community, especially the children. Christmas puts together many rituals and customs but the children carols are the most beautiful and the most exciting.
„Sorcova” is a Romanian folkloric custom performed on the 1st of January.It’s a custom loved by all children. They carry a budding twig of a tree or a “sorcova” made on a stick surrounded by colored paper flowers. This custom is known in Muntenia area, but it is also scattered in the rest of the country. It is practiced by children between 3-13 years old.
The name of „sorcova” comes from the Bulgarian word „surov” (tender green), reffering to the twig of a tree.
It is like a magic wand that has the ability to send youth and strengh to the one that it is leaned to. The text that reminds of an old spell fortifies the effect of moving the object.
The wish with the plow or the bull, “The little Plow” as people named it, is an old agrarian custom performed even today, especially in Moldavia. At New Year’s Eve or even at New Year’s day in many places the hatters companion made by 2-20 youngsters or recently married men go from house to house with the little plow to wish all good things to the people that receive them. It is a carol that today is performed by children too.
The Little Plow, an agrarian carol
It is an agrarian custom with strong roots in the Romanian spirituality; it has theatral elements and its theme is the work made py people in order to get bread. The plow, decorated with coloured paper, ribbons, towels, flowers and eventually with fir, it was compulsory for this carol.
It was recited from house to house onNew Year’s Eve, in the evening or till the New Year’s morning. It is performed by children or teenagers. But it is said that long time ago it was performed only by grown-up men. It was practised in small groups of 2-3 men. Long ago it was performed by larger groups that had a leader- vătaf. The reading of the text is accompanied by the ring of the bells and by the sounds made by the whips. In the complex forms of the ritual musical instruments are included- the whistle, the bagpipe, the drum, the violin- but also clacks that amplified the noisy atmosphere in which the custom took place.
Dragobete is an old Romanian holiday full of symbols and traditions. - In the morning of Dragobete the unmarried girls must gather some snow and melt it and then wash their faces and hair with it in order that the lovers consider them the most beautiful of all. It is said that if you are lucky enough to hear the hoopoe in this day you will be hard working all the year through. If it rains in this day the spring will come earlier and it will be nicer. Boys and girls gather on the hills, near the villages to talk and become friends. At noon girls come down to the villages and the boys must follow the ones they like. In the south part of the country this is called racer.The tradition sais that those who kissed in this day were meant to be together all the year.dragobete
Dragobete is the equivalent of Saint Valentine and it is celebrated on 24th February. It is 100% a Romanian custom which marks not only the love of Romanian people but also the beginning of spring.
- In some parts of the country, boys and girls engage on this day and swear their faith one to another. Even if one girl does not have a lover, she must smile and joke with boys in this day in order to marry soon.
- It is said that couple that do not kiss in this day will broke up by the end of the year.
- If Dragobete was not celebrated in one year, it was thought that young people will not get inlove the next year.dragobete
Egg painting is an old habit in Romanian culture. Painted eggs are a testament of the customs, beliefs and Easter traditions representing a spiritual culture element specific to the Romanian people.
The painted egg sends us feelings of joy, astonishment, piety, peace because it is drawn with symbols-the sun, the moon, the cross etc.- with nature models (plants, animals, household items) and with models of folkloric fabrics with all their repertory of sacred signs. The used folkloric motifs are: spike, sun, leaf and the cross- symbol of Romanian Christianity.Ornamented eggs are extremely varied from geometrical symbols to vegetal, animal, religious symbols.Egg painting
At dawn boys gather in groups and go through the villages, with Sanziene flowers on their hats. "Dragaica" is chosen. One girl from a group of seven girls is proposed. She must be the most beautiful, the wisest and the best from the girls of the village. She will be adorned with eras of wheat. The other girls dress in white, and the procession starts through the village and on fields.
At the crossroads, the girls do a dance and sing cheerfully.
Sanziene are plants with golden flowers and with a nice smell. They grow in orchards, on fields at the borders of some forests and glades. Accompanied by the music and the shouts of the boys, the girls gather the Sanziene flowers in bunches and weave round wreaths. These wreaths and bunches are brought to the village and are placed on the gates, at the doors, windows , on the hives and even on vegetables fields, with the belief that they will protect the house and the house-yard from even forces and that they will bring luck, health and riches to the people, animals and crops. (they will flourish like Sanziene)
On the Sanziene night, women go to places known only by them to gather herbs good for diseases and for spells. Many of this herbs are taken to church to be sanctified and thus to be cleared of negative influences of the Whitsuntide a kind of evil goddesses of the forests. Only in this way the herbs will be good to cure diseases.
Tradition says that Sanziene help young girls to find their future husband and the moment of their marriage. Men’ crowns, woven in a cross shape, and the girls’ crowns in circle shape are thrown on the roofs of the houses. If they remain on the roofs and don’t fall, it is a sign of a wedding, and if not, the chosen one must still be expected.
Saint Andrew, celebrated every year on 30th November, is the patron saint of Romania, and the holiday has a special significance for Romanian Christians. That is why, there are a lot of traditions and customs related to this holiday: the onions that predict weather, the basil placed under the pillow in order to dream the chosen one, or the germinated wheat that predicts the fate for the following year. Traditions on Saint AndrewOur ancestors believed in ghosts and that is why it is said that on Saint Andrew’s Eve the spirits walk freely on Earth.
Saint Andrew is considered the guardian of the sheep herds, the tamer of the wolves but with a figurative meaning because the Dacians identified themselves with wolves. Saint Andrew is the symbol of Romanian Christianity.
On the night of Saint Andrew, the spirits of the dead recover their powers, that is why some rituals are performed in order to protect the households, people and animalsIn order to protect their houses, women throw pieces of bread through their houses so the ghosts leave their homes. They turn the glasses, mugs and pots down so that the evil spirits do not shelter inside. They hang on garlic ropes at the hoses doors against werewolves. Animals are protected by a basil wire placed in their food or by a drop of holy water in their water.
On Saint Andrew Day, the unmarried girls can see their future husbands in their dreams if they place basil under their pillows. In some regions from Oltenia, children break some young branches of fruit trees and place them in water and in a warm space to sprout and at Saint Vasile they make a specific object for caroling. On Saint Andrew Day people make the weather forecast for the next year. According to the tradition 12 onions are needed, each signifying one calendar month; the onions are taken in the attic of the house on Saint Andrew and are left there till Christmas Eve. Then they are cut in two pieces and are interpreted: the ones that went bad signify rainy months and those which sprouted symbolize good months for agriculture.
The germinated wheat in the night of Saint Andrew is full of significance: a good wheat (green and tall) signifies a good, prosperous and healthy year for its owner on The New Year’s Eve.