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