Tourism Operation Licence no. 3854 / 2010
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Discover the ancient traditions and customs of the Romanian people!

- The Little March Amulet
Every year Romanian people knit two little tassels: a white one and a red one. At the beginning of March, they offer this amulet to the girls they love… In Moldavia, part of Romania, all persons can receive a little March amulet. Red means love for everything that is beautiful and white symbolizes the pureness and health of the snowdrops, the first flowers that appear in spring. That is the first celebration of spring in Romania.

The Legend of March Amulet
Once upon a time, the Sun embodying a handsome young man, got down from the sky to dance a "hora" in a village. A dragon lay in wait for him and kidnapped him from among the people and threw him into a jail. The world got sad. The birds wouldn't flow and the children wouldn't laugh. No one dared to challenge the bad dragon. But one day a brave young man decided to go and save the Sun. Lots of people saw him off and shared their strength with him. So they helped him defeat the dragon and save the Sun. His journey lasted for three seasons: summer, autumn and winter. He found the dragon's castle and they started to fight. They fought for days and finally the dragon was killed.
Powerless and wounded, the young man set the Sun free. The Sun rose in the sky cheering up all the people and filling them with joy. The nature revived, the people got happy, but the young man couldn't live to see spring coming. The warm blood from his wounds dropped on the snow. While the snow was melting white flowers, called snowdrops, messengers of the spring, were appearing out of the snow. Even his last drop of blood dripped out in the immaculate snow. And he died.
Since then the young people have been knitting two little tassels: a white one and a red one. At the beginning of March, they offer this amulet to the girls they love… Red means love for everything that is beautiful. It reminds us of the colour of the brave young man's blood. White symbolizes the pureness and health of the snowdrops, the first flowers that appear in spring.

The Paparuda "Rain Caller" is the ritual celebrated in Spring on a date that varies from place to place. An old magical dance invoking rain, this customs survived to the present day in many village of Romania. The children knit coronets, adorning them with ribbons. Then they dance, going from house to house. The hostess throws water and milk after them. The children and the young people have to receive a coin or wheat, corn, flour or bean.

Caloianul, Romanian Rainmaker

"Caloianul" is a figure used in Romanian village rite rainmaker. He looks like a man and it is adorned with flowers. On summer time, women and children from the dryness regions gather and model this "Caloian". They invoke the rain and her advantages through the procession they will take part. Everybody gather then at the border of the village. They also can invite the priest of the village and together they adorn a young tree. They use fresh fruit pretzels and candies. After that all group simulate the funeral of the "Caloian". First they walk this one on the dry fields. In the end they bury the "Caloian" throwing" it into a river. The waters of the river must carry it far away, bringing thus rains.
All the procession times, the children and women cry and mourn. The priest tells prayers for the invoker of the rain. In other Romanian regions dancing and singing accompany this ritual. For several times the invoked rain is appearing even at day or two after this ritual. On popular belief it is said that only the "Caloian" has unfastened the rains.

This very ancient agrarian custom is connected with the harvest, still survives sporadically in certain villages in the south of Romania. The learned prince Dimitrie Cantemir described it for the first time in his famous work "Descriptio Moldaviae", written about 1715.
The "Drãgaicas" are little girls of 11 to 12 years old, adorned with ears of corn. One of them is dressed as a bride and another one is dressed as a boy named "Draganu". Sometimes Draganu is a boy. He holds the banner of the "Drãgaicas": a pole with a rag-doll with outstretched arms, made of ears of corn or of a bunch of ears and with wormwood and garlic at its top.
The "Drãgaicas" sing and dance in a circle without holding hands. At intervals they whirl round and yell and the Dragan, the boy, whistles on an ordinary whistle. Wishing to amplify the performance, the little girls have added to the original ritual dance other dances borrowed from the grown up dancer. A flute-player or a piper who accompany them plays the music.

Saint Nicholas Day
The old Saint Nicholas arrives in Romania on the 6th of December, every year. His coming announces the beginning of the winter holidays, the Christmas and the New Year. Saint Nicholas is generous not only with the children, but the adults, too.
On the evening of the 5th of December, the boots are being happily polished in every home. People usually put the boots near the entrance door, waiting for the presents.
Saint Nicholas takes care of each member of the family. He puts a little present into every one's boots. But who is Saint Nicholas? The parents, of course. And who is the one who puts presents in the parents' boots? The rest of family. This custom is very old in Romania, and Saint Nicholas Day is one of the most important festivals of the year, especially for the children.
All that is known of Nicholas is that he was Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor during the 4th century. Legend tells how a noble but poor man was thinking of prostituting his three daughters because he was unable to provide them with a dowry. Nicholas threw three golden balls or bags of gold through the window of their house and withdrew unseen, thereby saving them from their fate.
Once, seamen threatened by a violent storm invoked Nicholas, and he appeared, and assisted them with the rigging until the storm died down.
When famine spread through his bishopric, Nicholas learned that several ships were anchored in the harbour laden with grain. The saint promised the fearful sailors that if they gave the grain to his starving people, the customs men would not find their cargo short. Nicholas was also said to have saved three soldiers from decapitation; had an innocent prince released from prison; and brought to life three children hidden in a brine
tub who had been murdered by their innkeeper father to feed to his guest during a plague.
He is patron saint of sailors and of children, and also the origin of Father Christmas- Santa Claus being a derivative of St Nicholas- an identification probably derived from his patronage of children and his charitable acts of presenting gifts by night.

The Goat Tradition
This custom lasts from Christmas until New Year. The masks of only one animal, whose name varies from a region to another, replace many times the biblical characters: stag in Hunedoara, goat or "turcã" in Moldavia and Ardeal, "boritã" in South Transylvania.
This custom is also called "brezaia" in Wallachia and Oltenia, because of the multicoloured appearance of the mask. A noisy children group accompanies the mask.
The goat jumps, jerks, turns round, and bends, clattering regularly the wooden jaws.
In town, this show is to be remarked by its originality of the costumes and of the choreography.

The Carol
The most important custom during winter festivals is the carol.
On Christmas' Eve only children go caroling. This custom is different from the proper caroling, where only the grown-ups participate. After the 23/24 midnight of December the children go caroling from one house to another. They get sweets, fruit and even money. In some parts of the country there is a custom named "Icon walking" that symbolizes Jesus birth. The real caroling happens on Christmas evening and night. The waits -young and mature people - gather in well-organized groups and they choose a leader. When they are in the yard of a house they perform their repertory to the host. The songs are always accompanied by dance. When they are over the host invites the waits in the house for a special meal and presents.

Christmas Night
Every year on the 25th of December it's Christmas, a special day in our life, a time for families to be together and enjoy each other's company. Yesterday, we repeated some Romanian carols for Christmas Eve. First of this celebration is the firtree's decoration with globes painted in many colours. We also decorate all our rooms with firtree branches. During the night we will eat traditional Romanian Christmas food: force-meal rolls in cabbage or in wine leaves, sausages, blood pudding and cozonac (a Romanian Christmas cake).

Table Custom
Another custom that is still alive in the countryside is called "The Table" and it is performed on Saint Vasile's Day. A group of four boys and girls gather together round of a table. On each corner of it is placed one of the following four objects: a coin, a slice of corn musk, a mirror and piece of coal. The participants know the meaning of the four objects, but they don't know where placed are because the objects are covered by a tablecloth.
The children have to choose one table corner. He/ She who will find the coin will gain money. He/ She who will find the corn musk will have food. He who will find the mirror will have a beautiful face and a pure and noble soul. The fourth will be unlucky because he/ she finds the piece of coal.

Bridges' Custom
On the first day of the New Year children from Moldova region are involved in a special ritual. That is the most spread ritual used for future prediction. Children, junior girls and boys, make a "bridge" of a small branch in a pitchfork shape. A stick is placed across between the two rides of the branch. It symbolizes a connection between the old and New Year. Each child should have her/his run bridge. She/ He may dream on the first New Year night her/his destiny.

Nativity Drama - Viflaimul
Played from Christmas to Epiphany, Nativity Drama is a form of folk theatre, which represents the birth of Jesus. Inspired by clerical literature from the bible texts, Nativity Drama keeps the hints from the traditional carol. Other forms of folk theatre developed on outlaws' stories, structure, which circulated in different regions of our country. A fight between the old and the New Year often precedes the show, and in the end of it is a carol.

The Little Plough -Plugusorul
"Plugusorul" is a small plough but in Romanian folklore is a traditional procession with a decorated plough, on New Years' Day. This is a well wishing for the field bearing on New' Years Day. This custom arises from "Carmen arvale", a wish from the Romans from the protection of the crops. The ploughmen are teenagers and children having whip, bells and pipes in the hands. Their noises accompany the well wishing.

"Sorcova" is a bouquet used for New Year's wishes. Children wish to the people a happy New Year while touching them lightly with this bouquet. It is a children's tradition of invoking the divinity of vegetation for the health and wealth of the host in the morning of the first day of the New Year. The 10 - year old children, after they have wished a happy New Year to the members of the family, go to their neighbors and relatives. "Sorcova" is made up of one or several fruit - tree twinges (apple-tree, pear-tree cherry-tree, plum-tree); all of them are put into water, in warm place, on November 30th, in order to bud and to blossom on new year's Eve. Nowadays people use an apple-tree or pear-tree twig decorated with colored paper and flowers made up of colored paper, too.
"Sorcova" is a symbol of fertility, health and purity. The children touch everybody slightly with "sorcova", wishing them to blossom like apple-tree and pear-tree, to live and grove old like these and to be as strong as a stone or as iron.
The children get all kinds of gifts such as: cakes, honeycombs, biscuits, pretzels, candies, money.

The Bear Custom
This custom is known only in Moldavia, part of Romania, on the Christmas Eve.
The bear was embodied by a young man wearing the coat of a killed animal that was adorned with red tassels on its ears on his head and shoulders. Sometimes, the mask used to be made in a common way: the bear's head was made of wood skeleton covered with a coat and its body of a rough cover, adorned in such a way so it might suggest its characteristic brown threads. The mask was accompanied by a young man wearing a bear coat and by fiddlers and followed by a whole procession of characters, among a child as a bear's cub might be. Roused by the young man wearing the bear's coat who sang:
"Dance well, you old bear, / Because I give bread and olives." the mask grumbled and imitated the jerky steps of the bear, striking violently against the earth with his soles, while the drums and the pipe were playing.

For the invocation of fertility, but also with an aim of the healing of certain diseases, the "Cãlusari", "Cãlusul", or "jocul cãlusarilor" (the dance of the Cãlusari) is danced at Whitsuntide. It was also described for the first time by Dimitrie Cantemir, and known in olden times in all the regions of Romania. It has completely disappeared in Moldavia but not without leaving certain traces in some men's dances of the region, while in Transylvania and the Banat, it was put aside and replaced by a drawing-room dance. On the other hand, in Oltenia, Wallachia and in the certain parts of Dobrogea, the old dance of the "Cãlusari" was preserved in fairly well knit forms. Generally the custom has the following aspect: after having bound themselves by oath to dance together for a certain numbers of years and to respect the discipline imposed by tradition, the dancers begin their rehearsals. The team, under leadership of a captain, is generally composed of an old number of dancers. One of them, " (the dumb man), is masked. He is nowadays the buffoon of the troup, but it seems that formerly he had a much more important role. The Cãlusari wear a special festive costume and hold sticks, while the ''mut'' carries a sword in his hand. According to Dimitrie Cantemir, in his time all the Cãlusari held swords. The troup carriers a banner: a pole adorned with coloured ribbons and a bunch of wormwood and garlic at its top, healing herbs sought by the onlookers. The dance of the "Cãlus'' is performed during a whole week, White week or "Calus_week" as it is also called, during which the team also visits some neighbouring localities. The dance composed of a circular promenade of the dancers, which alternates with more and more intricate figures, has special dynamic and is extremely spectacular. In the course of time this dance seems to have absorbed into itself several other ritual dances- war dances, fertility, healing dances, hence its complex character. Of recent years, the dance of the Cãlusari, relieved of its former magic function, has been taken over and turned to account by a number of amateur and professional artistic teams, sometimes with resounding success in performances.

The Weddings
Weddings also preserve various traditions. The songs are performed by musicians and even by the wedding guests themselves. A varied melody, sometimes even with a varied text, is "A miresei" (To the bride), song either at the solemn moment when the bride takes leave of her parents and her home, or when she changes her maiden head-gear for that of a wife. Her leave-taking of her former life, the description of her life in her parents' house in comparison with that in her parents-in-law's, the change from appeal to the sun a to lengthen the day, the sorrow of the mother's who loses her daughter, and the joy of the mother-in-law who acquires her as daughter-in-law, the comparison of the maidens with apples on a branch: when they ripen their number lessens; these are the topics most often encountered in the songs for the bride.

The Burial ceremony
The ceremonies connected with death and burial seem to be the best -preserved of Romanian folk customs. In the north of Moldavia and of Transilvania, death is announced to the village by the sound of alphorns. Two - seldom one - sometimes four and even six alphorn players accompany the funeral procession and blow signals called: About the dead, Following the dead, For the dead, The accompanying of the dead or "The Hora of the dead", especially for young people and sometimes for shepherds only.
The alphorn is blown in the dead man's yard, at early dawn, at noon, in the evening and sometimes at night during the wake; likewise on the way to the churchyard, over the grave, after the coffin has been covered with earth. The calls played for the dead are different from the pastoral ones: "as for the dead, "more doleful." An extensive zone in the west of the country, comprising the north of Oltenia, the Banat and the neighbouring Hunedoara knows a series of ceremonial funeral songs, which are sung by experienced women appointed to the task, who must not be close relations of the dead person. The songs are sung at certain moments of the burial, with a strict observance of the unwritten laws of tradition. Foremost among these songs in the " Song of the Dawn" which announces the death to the village at early dawn. Another important ceremonial funeral song is "Cântecul bradului, Al cetinii sau Al sulitii" ("The Song of the Pine", "Of the pine needles" or "Of the spear"). This is sung for those that died young and unmarried, for the fir-tree brought from the wood and decorated represents the wedding fir-tree. The poetical text contains the lament of the fir-tree who complains that if was made to believe it would be used in the building of a house, when in fact it will be left to wither at the head of the grave.
There are also other songs such as "La fereastra" (At the window), "Al drumului" (Of the way), "De petrecut" (For the accompanying), "Al gropii" (Of the grave) and others. They comprise instructions for the dead person, for the way he must take; he is advised to make friends with the otter who knows about the waters and the fords, and with the wolf who knows the secret pathways of the forests. In these songs " Samodiva" is mentioned who notes down with red ink the living and with black ink the dead. They tell about the quarrel of the cuckoo with Death, and so on. The poems of these ancient "songs of the dead" are often of rare beauty. But the most important burial songs are the "bocete" (dirges), known all over the country. Sung by female relations and close friends of dead, they are "a melodic overflow of sorrow" at the dead person's bedside, in the yard, on the road, in the church-yard during the burial and subsequently on certain dates destined for the commemoration of the dead. The texts of the dirges, besides expressing the sorrow of those left behind, often contain elements with a powerful social content, which are echoes character of folklore is obvious at every step, both in the dirges for the orphan children and regret at separation from "the love of the world" are but a few of the topics of these moving songs.

Saint Andrew's Day
The Romanian celebrations and customs of late November and early December coincide with the season of the Thracian's Bacchanalia and the Roman's Saturnalia, in the calendar.It was at the time of those celebrationsthat the founding fathers of the Christian Church established the celebration of Apostole Andrew.He was the one who has spread the belief in Jesus in the area of the Danube and Black Sea in the first decades of the first millennium of the Christian era.The Christian celebration gained ground in the belivers' minds, so the night of November 29/30 has become a time of ritual and magic practices.
Magic practices of purification and protection of people, cattle, houses and all family precincts are performed in many villages of Bukovina and Moldova on St. Andrew's Day.The women's main weapon against evil spirits is garlic.Garlic is eaten in abundance, either as cloves or garlic sauce at the dinner of November 29.The housewife will put garlic cloves at every door, window, and chimney, which is to say she puts a symbolic mark.Every place of the house communicates with the world outside.
St.Andrew's Day is the time when young girls' fate can be foretold, as well as the future crops: the old 'readers in stars' observe the sky and predict a rich or a poor year, a rainy or a dry year.
In southern Romania, in Oltenia, people grow wheat grains in a clay jar and have ways to tell their future from it.

St. Ignatius' Day
The bloody sacrifice of pigs occurs on Ignat, Ignatius' Day, on December the 20th.Romanian beliefs and customs that are related to the Ignat are symbolic relics of the pagan ritual sacrifice:the prediction of the animals violent death, its capture and stabbing, and its portioning; the pork funeral feast with dishes of pork meat and organs, as well as tuica:the romanian brandy and wine, in abundance.The custom has been practiced throughout Romania.

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