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National Holidays

- December 1 The National Day. Read about this important day at

- Christmas Day (December 25 and 26 )

- New Year's Eve (January 1 and 2 )

- Easter Day in spring, a week after the Catholic Easter.

- May Day on May 1   (Labour Day)

Other important  Holidays
On March 1 there is Martzisor (read martzyshore with the accent on shore.)
Every girl and woman wear a very small and delicate object made from gold or silver or wood 
or ceramics or wool or some other material, representing some object or plant or animal  
together with a twisted string of red and white silk. 
This is called martzishor and is supposed to bring you good luck. 
For the young people this day is a kind of Valentine's Day.

There is another holiday called Florii (read flooryy with an accent on yy) (The Flowers Day), 
a week before Eastern, when we bring fresh flowers and willow branches in our homes.

There is then March 8, inherited from the Communist days but still celebrated mainly in towns 
and mainly at one's job location (less in our homes). It's a kind of Mother's day , 
Teacher's day or Woman's day. All women receive flowers and sometimes gifts. 

There is Sfanta Maria (Saint Mary's Days)  at the beginning and the end of Summer ,  
great religious Holidays. 

Folk tradition puts an interdiction to women to wash clothes or do needle work or sew on 
any religious Holiday.

There are the Saint Days all over  the year, for example Sfantul Ion ( Saint John's Day in January)
celebrated by the people with the same name as the Saint.
As there are a lot of people called Ion, Ioana, Mihai, Elena, Constantin, Maria, Marian, 
their Saint's days are a kind of National Holidays.

Local Holidays and customs
We used to have a lot of customs especially in the villages. 
Unfortunately a lot of people moved to towns and to a new life. 
Communism also destroyed so many lives - you can't imagine what  it did to people and their life and 
Anyhow, here are some customs which seems to be still alive. 
In the south of the country there are Calusharii (read ka loo shar yy with the accent on shar). 
These are young boys dressed very smart, with shirts embroidered by their sweet ones 
and with little bells hanged to their boots. 
They choose a chief called Staroste and which is carrying a fine stick with some symbols attached. 
They perform a very quick and  fine dance (something similar to the Irish dances but with much 
more difficult steps) They do it only once a year, at the beginnig of the spring. 
They start dancing early in the morning trough the village and the ones they find sleeping they "punish" 
Like throwing a bucket full of water on them or something like this. 
Depends on the village. 
Another custom still preserved in some villages is called shezatoare 
(bit difficult to pronounce - try sha zaa twoarae with the accent on twoar). 
Especially in winter, women in the village gather in one of the houses for sewing, neddle work and 
other handcraft works. 
They usually are preparing the dowry for a young girl to be married (like pillows, bed covers, sheets, 
wall carpets etc.) or they are preparing a feast for a wedding. They sing songs, recite poems 
(their own poems and their own songs sometimes), tell stories and jokes or just gossip. 
My aunt was such a folk poet. She used to compose and recite very long poems. 
Also there are the fairs, especially in the mountains where the people  are quite alone. 

Each week there is a fair in one of the bigger villages or at a special known site. 
You can buy anything from horses to grains and potatos and clothes. 
Marriages are sometimes "made" on such fairs. 
There is a special fair in the Gaina Mountain once a year 
(Chicken Mountain" - pronounce Gaina like italian gallina but without l)
 where people are gathering from all other the surrounding hills just to find suitable husbands for their girls. 
On Christmas Day we sing Carols, like maybe you do. We have  very old, very fine carols called 
colinde (pronounce ko lyn dae). 
Only in some villages, instead of carols, young boys, smartly dressed, sometimes with elaborated masks 
go from house to house to whish people luck. 
Some of the incantations they recite are said to be more than a thousand years old. In each house,
they receive gifts like a fresh baked round bread like a huge pretzel called COLAC (read ko laak), 
a seep of home made brandy or a glass of wine or some nuts and apples. 
Or they are invited to lunch or dinner. 
Each Church in the country has a special holiday called Hram 
(read chram), a cellebration of the Saint to which the Church was dedicated when it was build. 
In the North East of the country, people are more religious and the Hram is a special event for everyone 
in the region. 
They go to a special mass in front of the church, each with a basket loaded with goods 
(which must be blessed by the priest before anyone touches its content). Then they have a great party. 
If the curch belongs to a rich monastery there are people invited from all over the country by the monks 
or sisters. And meals offered by the monastery to the very poor. 

Many customs still alive are related to food. On each holiday we have some special meals we usually 
cook only on those events. For example, on Christmas we have a special cake made 
of eggs, sugar, floor, rasins and nuts called kozonak. 
We also have sarmale (pronounce sar maale withe accent on maa) : 
meat, onions, peppers very finely chopped, mixed with rice and some other ingredients and wrapped 
in sour cabbage leaves or vine leaves (something like the turkish dolmades). 
You boil them until the rice and onion is well cooked, add some tomato paste, maybe a glass of wine 
and some pepper. You serve them hot with polenta and sour cream. 
And a glass of good red or white wine. Each family has its own "best" receipt for sarmale and each is 
very proud of it. 
On Eastern we make a kind of young sheep kidney and liver pie called drob with a lot of fresh herbs 
and green onion. 

Barbecue is a "national sport".  Best near a wood, in the mountains or near a river. 
The favourites are micii (pronounced like mitch). 
These are like small sausages made of mixed meats (pork and beef or mutton, garlic, pepper, 
baking soda and some secret ingredients. Best kept secret by cooks in Romania. 
We buy them ready mixed. Some people love also barbecued fish with a lot of salt and hot peppers, 
called saramurika (sounds like Japaneese but it's Romanian, a Romance language). 
A cold glass of beer or shpritz (white wine with soda or mineral water) is favourite by older people. 
Younger ones prefer cola or soda or fruit juices. People in the mountains like barbecued wild 
mushrooms with a special local smoked cheese sprinkled all over. 

There are some customs related to funerals. 
Like we make a special cake of boiled grains, nuts and sugar called koliva. 
And break a glass to make bad luck go away. 
You must wash the hands when you come back from cemetery to wash away the trouble. 

Weddings nowadays are like in the whole wide world with a white gown and a smashing party. 
I don't know if the following is a custom of our own but it is very funny. 
The friends of the bridegroom try to steal the bride. Of course they succeed as the bride is very
cooperative and they hide her very well. They present the bridegroom one of the shoes of the 
bride as a proof. The Bridegroom must "Buy her back" usually with a case of good wine. 
Sometimes they bargain a lot to the amusement of everyone. 
Read some other interesting stories on Romanian Holidays on the following sites

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                          Last updated : November 27, 2000