X is for Xmas


Like the majority of Eastern Europe, Romania is affiliated with the Greek Orthodox Church. Thus, Christmas is the most important holiday.

The religious aspect aside, for me Christmas is about family, about long-standing traditions.


It’s been a long time since I spent Christmas in Romania, but I remember everything like yesterday.

Firs are the main Christmas trees. Gift exchanges take place, although nowhere near as much as in the U.S. 

The singing of carols is an important part of the festivities. Throughout the Christmas season, children sing songs such as Steaua (The Star), Trei Pastori (The Three Shepherds) and Mos Craciun (Santa Claus).

Romanian folklore abounds with Christmas carols, which lend a  religious mood to the festival. Churches specially organize concerts to celebrate the occasion.

In rural areas, on the first day of Christmas, carolers walk through the streets, holding a star made of cardboard and paper on which are depicted various scenes from the Bible. The leader of the group carries a large wooden star, which is wrapped up with metal foil and adorned with bells.

Christmas dinner in Romania is a rich, multi-course meal. On the top of the menu come various kinds of sausages, with plum brandy and home-made pickles.

Sarmale (stuffed cabbage) an indispensable item for the festive dinner, comes next. The dish consists of pickled cabbage leaves stuffed with a combination of pork and beef, along with rice, pepper, thyme and other spices. Plenty of wine is consumed. The last item is cozonaci, a cake filled with nuts and raisings.

Delicious and fun.

It’s the holiday that brings everyone together.  



Image: XMas Three in Timisoara, RO, goeasteuropeabout.com

39 responses to “X is for Xmas

  1. Lovely to read about your Christmas traditions.

  2. Thanks for sharing your Christmas traditions. We spent one Christmas in Prague, where the holiday food is carp schnitzel. They sell the fish from huge tanks of water on the street corners, and once the fish is purchased, it is kept in water in the bathtub until Christmas Eve, when everyone has carp soup. Do Romanians have a Father Christmas or a Santa Claus or a Saint Nicholas?

  3. Thank you for educating me on Romanian Christmas traditions. I always suspected America overdoes the gift-giving (a nation of excess would not make this instance an exception.) I love your details about the meal. Yummy.


  4. Great post, really interesting to learn more about how others celebrate :)

  5. Silvia, I really enjoyed your post about the feeling of tradition and family. It is lovely. Between my kids and grandkids we have six birthdays during the holidays. Sadly, I’m happy to see the New Year begin! I loved hearing about the yummy food. Your one dish is very similar to the Greek dish of grape leaves stuffed with rice and other goodies…. YUMMMM!!

    Thanks for the lovely post.

  6. Lovely post on Xmas Silvia thank you! Will be checking your most recent posts – I’ve been away and wi-fi was not available .. a few more days to go!
    Garden of Eden Blog

  7. I remember your post “Why I like Christmas” and I can see how that stems from your Romania roots. I also like the family aspect, the music, and all the “trimmings”!

  8. Tradition and family are very important for the holidays. I must look up sarmale!

  9. Such a nice post! :)

    Thanks for visiting my blog the other day.

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption
    Minion, Capt. Alex’s Ninja Minion Army
    The 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

  10. How I wish our own American traditions had not gotten so commercial. My own Christmas on the farm in Illinois, we had traditions handed down from my mom’s and then my dad’s. I miss that.
    With my own family, we also have traditions, which I fear have been watered down without my children continuing in Christian beliefs.
    thanks again, Silvia.

  11. You have a beautiful family. I would love to see those caroling parades. How inspiring!
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

  12. I think Christmas away from north america would be preferable. sounds wonderful. And am amused how everyone is doing the X challenge today

  13. No matter how different celebrations are around the world, it is the one time of year families come together and spend time together. That doesn’t change no matter where a person lives.


  14. Thanks for giving us a taste of how Xmas is celebrated in Romania. It’s fascinating to learn about the different iterations. And your post made me hungry. :-)

  15. My favourite holiday is Christmas and I find most of Europe knows how to truly celebrate Christmas. I love all the different traditions and the different Christmas carols. Each country has something unique but they all have wonderful food, traditions and family united

  16. It must be a Christmas kind of day today. I passed an ice cream truck today. It was blasting Christmas carols.

  17. Love reading about your traditions and the celebratory meals. Also, congrats on finishing ( just z left) the a-z challenge. I know from previous years how much work is involved and tip my hat to you and all who completed it. !!

  18. I love learning about how Christmas is celebrated around the world. It’s amazing how many different customs there are for the same holiday. My late paternal grandpap, a Slovakian, was Eastern Catholic, and so had a custom of leaving his tree up till the Orthodox Christmas. In spite of his religious background, he had a sadder reason for a later tree as a boy—his family were so poor from the Depression, they had to salvage their tree from the garbage dump after Western Christians threw their trees out.

    • We often left the tree up long after New Year’s, Carrie-Anne, for the love of it, but I do appreciate learning your grandfather’s history. Sad, yeah, so very sad. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Coming from a large family I love reading about how other families celebrate Christmas. What great memories you have!

  20. Great memories, Cindy. Thank you.

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