Romanian Christmas Traditions

Christmas represents a special moment for all of us. It is a celebration that changes for the better our take on life, makes us see the good in others and open our hearts to them. All around the globe Christmas combines universal elements, like decorating the tree, with other, less known, region-specific ones.

The Pig Sacrifice

A few days before the beginning of the holidays the pig sacrifice takes place. This is done on December 20th, the day of St. Ignatius. This tradition is kept particularly in the countryside, where everything takes place according to a closely followed ritual. The origins of this custom date back to immemorial times. It was accepted and absorbed by the Christian religion as a natural part of the local community life. Christianity also bestowed upon it a religious significance, as nobody can taste the food prepared on this day until after the priest has given his blessing.

The Goat Dance

The elder held the goat as the animal that could foretell if the weather would be good or bad. Originally, the ˝goat dance˝ (the killing, mourning, burial and resurrection ) was a grave and serious ceremony. In time it has turned into a ritual meant to bring prosperity in the year to come. Nowadays, this game has remained a pretext to remember traditions from long ago and also take pride in the colorful traditional costumes worn on this occasion.

Carol Singing

Carol singing usually marks the start of the 12 days of Christmas. In the villages, children and lads usually go from house to house singing carols. They are organized in a ˝bevy˝ with a clearly defined hierarchy, having a leader and a meeting place.

In the past, the lads between 18 and 20 would be the ones going out carol singing. They would find a host in one of the villages and they would always go out on together. If one of them was found alone on the streets of the village, he would be in for quite a severe punishment.
During this time everything has to have a festive dimension. Carols create an atmosphere full of optimism, where men make wishes and foster secret desires.

The Christmas Tree

The custom of the Christmas tree was borrowed from Western Europe. Supposedly, it comes from the pagan Germanic tribes and was subsequently absorbed by christianity. In Romania, the tradition of decorating a tree or a green branch was tied to the wedding ritual (the wedding firtree) or to the burial ritual of an unwed youth. As a Christmas tradition, it was encountered until the end of the XIXth century only in the houses of the German immigrants. After WWI, this custom spread in the entire country.


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6 thoughts on “Romanian Christmas Traditions”

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