Folklore-inspired Romanian customs in modern days
New to Romania? Curious about its history or customs?
Well, we got you covered. At least partially, since we’re not going to discuss the abundance of history this amazing country has, as it would take far too long to do so.
However, we are here to give you some insight into Romania's customs with folk clothing coming up - stay tuned for this.
Most of our customs began in rural areas, inspired by folk stories or Christian traditions. The amazing thing is that most of our customs are, to this day, alive and adapted to modern society.
Easter Tradition - Ouă încondeiate (decorated eggs)
Let’s start off with something most of you are familiar with: Easter. Each country has their own Easter traditions, or ways of celebrating it.
In certain areas of Romania eggs are painted in a marvelous way - via a process “încondeiere”. Simply put, amazing designs are masterfully embroidered onto eggs as it can be seen below.
Ouă încondeiate - decorated eggs
“Încondeierea” can be done on natural or wooden eggs, with the design depending on regions and its traditions.
Bucovina, a region in the North of Romania, is the ‘go-to’ place for embroidered eggs. True art is created on this occasion, with plenty of motifs - wheat ear, the sun, leaves and so on.
Christmas and New Year Traditions - Christmas Caroling
Moving onto Christmas, we find people of all ages from rural areas gathering together, to go carolling. They do so on Christmas Eve and usually go on for two, three days - depending on the area. Breath-taking carols are sung, folklore masks are worn and sometimes even disguises of bears and other forest animals are being improvised.
Christmas Market masks, Bucharest Romania
Urban areas adapted carolling as well, but something is lacking.
Perhaps you could witness both during your Erasmus and let us know what is that lacking element.
Christmas carolers in bear skins, Cluj-Napoca Romania
We’re not done with carolling yet - we like to sing a lot, and take plenty of our ways of doing it from Christian traditions.
On Christmas Day, young people improvise a star, dress up as the three mages and go around the village/city to let people know that Christ was born.
After a break of a few days, comes New Year’s Eve and the day after. On this occasion, Romanians go carolling with “Plugușorul” - an agricultural carol which is being sung alongside bells and whips.
“Aho, aho, copii și frați” - the start of “Plugușorul” will have all Romanians instinctively thinking about its continuation. Really, try it and see if we’re right.
Christmas traditions in Maramures, Romania
Spring Tradition - Mărțișor
From eggs to carols, our customs are diverse and unique. While talking about unique traditions, we absolutely have to mention: “Mărțișorul”.
Foretelling the coming of Spring, Mărțișorul is an old custom which gained more popularity than even embroidered eggs.
Celebrated on the 1st of March, Mărțișorul is a handmade amulet or symbol tied together with two strings. The two strings are of different colours: white - symbolizing divinity and purity; and red - symbolizing love, friendship. Some could also associate the two colours of the strings with the two main seasons: winter and summer.
It is usually a gift that men give to women, with women wearing their favorite Mărțișor for the whole month of March. While in Romania, you should search for Mărțișor workshops and create your own!
Mărțișor with traditional Romanian motif
Wedding Tradition - Stealing the bride
We talked a lot about customs revolving around Holidays or special days. But what is that one special day that most of us go through?
That’s right, wedding time. In Romania, there are a lot, and I mean a lot of wedding-related customs. They vary, based on region, but one has managed to overcome the barriers regions might have.
“Furatul miresei”, translation - stealing the bride-to-be. It’s a custom in which the bride is stolen, usually by the best man, or close friends of the groom, and a ransom is being asked from the groom or from the godfather/godmother.
Ransoms may vary and are oftentimes creative - love poems for the bride, dancing on amusing songs and the list can go on - it all depends on how the negotiating goes.
Aren’t our customs fascinating? And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
As mentioned before, there are many more customs in this amazing country and all of them vary a lot, based on region.
We challenge you to explore Romania and its customs as much as you can during your Erasmus.
Are you up for it?