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Romanian Winter Customs
The Goat Tradition *Capra  
Nativity Drama 
The Little Plough *Plugusorul  
Winter Holidays Carols
The Star Carol *Steaua 
Bear Custom  
The Carol  
Special Thanks to Dinu Lazar  *   Pictures from Romania
The Goat Tradition *Capra 

Beginning from Ignat's Day, the 20th of December, to Saint Vasile's Day, the 1st of January, children used to go with Goat. They dance accompanied by the flute music. 
This tradition comes from the Roman people and it reminds us the celebration of the ancient Greek gods. 

Cristi Sebe, School 10 Focsani, Romania
This custom lasts from Christmas until New Year. The masks of only one animal, whose name varies from a region to another, replace many times the biblical characters: stag in Hunedoara, goat or "turcã" in Moldavia and Ardeal, "boritã" in South Transylvania. 
This custom is also called "brezaia" in Wallachia and Oltenia, because of the multicoloured appearance of the mask. A noisy children group accompanies the mask. 
The goat jumps, jerks, turns round, and bends, clattering regularly the wooden jaws. 
In town, this show is to be remarked by its originality of the costumes and of the choreography. 

Umblatul cu capra  

Acest obicei tine, de regulã, de la Crãciun pânã la Anul Nou. Mãstile care evocã la Vicleim personaje biblice sunt înlocuite aici de masca unui singur animal, al cãrui nume variazã de la o regiune la alta: cerb în Hunedoara, caprã sau turcã în Moldova si Ardeal, boritã (de la bour) în Transilvania de sud etc. În Muntenia si Oltenia, capra e denumitã brezaia (din cauza înfãtisãrii pestrite a mãstii) si obiceiul se practicã mai ales de Anul Nou. Masca este însotitã de o ceatã zgomotoasã de copii, cu nelipsitii lãutari ce acompaniazã dansul caprei. Capra saltã si se smuceste, se roteste si se apleacã, clãmpãnind ritmic din fãlcile de lemn. La oras, spectacolul se remarcã mai ales prin originalitatea costumului si a coregrafiei. 

Gabriela Brancovici, School 10 Focsani, Romania 
Nativity Drama 

Played from Christmas to Epiphany, Nativity Drama is a form of folk theatre, which represents the birth of Jesus. Inspired by clerical literature from the bible texts, Nativity Drama keeps the hints from the traditional carol. Other forms of folk theatre developed on outlaws' stories, structure, which circulated in different regions of our country. 
A fight between the old and the New Year often precedes the show, and in the end of it is a carol. 


Jucat de la Crãciun pânã la Boboteazã, Vicleimul este o formã de teatru popular care înfãtiseazã nasterea lui Iisus. Inspirat din literatura bisericeascã creatã pe marginea textelor biblice, Vicleimul pãstreazã urme din colindatul cu mãsti. Alte forme de teatru popular s-au dezvoltat pe structura povestilor cu haiduci care circulã în diferite zone ale tãrii. Spectacolul este adesea precedat de o ceartã între anul vechi si anul nou, iar sfârsitul sãu ia forma unei urãri. 

Dana Alina Iliescu, School 10 Focsani, Romania 
The Little Plough *Plugusorul  

"Plugusorul" is a small plough but in Romanian folklore is a traditional procession with a decorated plough, on New Years' Day. 
This is a well wishing for the field bearing on New' Years Day. This custom arises from "Carmen arvale", a wish from the Romans from the protection of the crops. The ploughmen are teenagers and children having whip, bells and pipes in the hands. 
Their noises accompany the well wishing. 

Cristina Mihu, School 10 Focsani, Romania 
The Star Carol *Steaua 

Children make a star using coloured paper and then they put in its middle a Jesus icon. Many of children decorate their star using tinsel. 
The Star Carol is a tradition during the 3 days of Romanian Christmas. It announces the Jesus born. The children sing holding the star in the hand. 

"The star has appeared on high, 
Like a big secret in the sky, 
The star is bright, 
May all your wishes turn out right…" 

Raluca Antonache, School 10 Focsani, Romania 
Bear Custom 

This custom is known only in Moldavia, part of Romania, on the Christmas Eve. 
The bear was embodied by a young man wearing the coat of a killed animal that was adorned with red tassels on its ears on his head and shoulders. 
Sometimes, the mask used to be made in a common way: the bear's head was made of wood skeleton covered with a coat and its body of a rough cover, adorned in such a way so it might suggest its characteristic brown threads. 
The mask was accompanied by a young man wearing a bear coat and by fiddlers and followed by a whole procession of characters, among a child as a bear's cub might be. 
Roused by the young man wearing the bear's coat who sang: 
"Dance well, you old bear, / Because I give bread and olives." the mask grumbled and imitated the jerky steps of the bear, striking violently against the earth with his soles, while the drums and the pipe were playing. 

Umblatul cu ursul  

Aceastã datinã e întâlnitã doar în Moldova, de Anul Nou. 
Ursul era întruchipat de un flãcãu, purtând pe cap si umeri blana unui animal ucis, împodobitã în dreptul urechilor cu ciucuri rosii. Alteori, masca era mai simplã: capul ursului se confectioneazã dintr-un schelet de lemn acoperit cu o blanã, iar trupul dintr-o pânzã solidã, astfel ornatã încât sã sugereze perii maronii caracteristici. 
Masca era condusã de un "ursar", însotitã de muzicanti si urmatã adesea de un întreg alai de personaje- printre care se aflã si un copil în rolul "puiului de urs". Atâtat de ursar: 
"Joacã bine, mãi Martine,/ Ca-ti dau pâine cu mãsline..." în rãpãitul tobelor sau pe melodia fluierului, tinându-si echilibrul cu ajutorul unui ciomag, masca mormãie si imitã pasii legãnati si sacadati ai ursului, izbind puternic pãmântul cu tãlpile. 

Cristina Mihu, 4th grade, School 10 Focsani, Romania 
The Carol  

The most important custom during winter festivals is the carol. 
On Christmas' Eve only children go caroling. This custom is different from the proper caroling, where only the grown-ups participate. After the 23/24 midnight of December the children go caroling from one house to another. They get sweets, fruit and even money. In some parts of the country there is a custom named "Icon walking" that symbolizes Jesus birth. 
The real caroling happens on Christmas evening and night. The waits -young and mature people - gather in well-organized groups and they choose a leader. When they are in the yard of a house they perform their repertory to the host. The songs are always accompanied by dance. When they are over the host invites the waits in the house for a special meal and presents. 

Do you know that… 

In Island the children who were naughty during the whole year get a potato instead of presents? 
In Spain the children don't get presents from Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus but from the Three Magicians? 


Obiceiul cel mai important din apropierea Crãciunului este colindul. 
În ajunul Crãciunului colindãtorii sunt copii. Acest obicei se deosebeste astfel de colindatul propriu-zis, la care participã doar tinerii si oamenii maturi. Dupã miezul noptii de 23/24 decembrie, copiii colindã din casã în casã. Ei primesc ca daruri dulciuri, fructe si chiar bani. În unele pãrti ale tãrii existã un obicei numit "Umblatul cu icoana", care semnificã nasterea lui Iisus. Adevãratul colindat se desfãsoarã în seara si noaptea de Crãciun. Colindãtorii -tineri si oameni maturi- se adunã în cete bine organizate si îsi aleg un conducãtor. Odatã intrati în curte acestia îsi deapãnã repertoriul gazdelor. Cântecele sunt întotdeauna însotite de dansuri. Când ele au luat sfârsit gazda îsi invitã colindãtorii în casã pentru un ospãt si daruri. 

Stiati cã… 

În Islanda, copiii care au fost obraznici în timpul anului pot primi de Crãciun un cartof în loc de cadouri? 
În Spania, copiii nu primesc daruri de la Sfântul Nicolae sau de la Mos Crãciun, ci de la cei trei magi? 

Oana Sãcãlus, School 10 Focsani, Romania 

"Sorcova" is a bouquet used for New Year's wishes. Children wish to the people a happy New Year while touching them lightly with this bouquet. 

Maria Dumitru, School 10 Focsani, Romania 
It is a children's tradition of invoking the divinity of vegetation for the health and wealth of the host in the morning of the first day of the New Year. 
The 10 - year old children, after they have wished a happy New Year to the members of the family, go to their neighbors and relatives. "Sorcova" is made up of one or several fruit - tree twinges (apple-tree, pear-tree cherry-tree, plum-tree); all of them are put into water, in warm place, on November 30th, in order to bud and to blossom on new year's Eve. Nowadays people use an apple-tree or pear-tree twig decorated with colored paper and flowers made up of colored paper, too. 
"Sorcova" is a symbol of fertility, health and purity. The children touch everybody slightly with "sorcova", wishing them to blossom like apple-tree and pear-tree, to live and grove old like these and to be as strong as a stone or as iron. 
The children get all kinds of gifts such as: cakes, honeycombs, biscuits, pretzels, candies, money. 

"Colindatul" - this is the most spread and complex of all our customs. 

The carol "Sorcova"  

Sorcova, vesela, 
Sã trãiti, sã-mbãtrâniti, 
Ca un mãr, ca un pãr, 
Ca un fir de trandafir, 
Tare ca piatra, 
Iute ca sãgeata, 
Tare ca fierul, 
Iute ca otelul, 
Peste varã, primavarã, 
Nici capul sã nu te doarã, 
La anu' si la multi ani !
Sorcova care se cântã la geam 

De când domnul s-a nãscut, 
Si pãmântul s-a fãcut, 
Si cerul s-a ridicat, 
Pe patru stâlpi de argint, 
Mai frumos l-a împodobit, 
Numai stele mãruntele, 
La mijlocul stelelor, 
Sfânta lunã cu luminã, 
Sfântul soare cu dogoare, 
La portita raiului,

Sade floarea-soarelui, 
Si cu spicul grâului, 
Si judecã florile, 
Ce-a fãcut miroasele 
Le-au tãiat cu coasele 
Si le-au fãcut buchetele, 
Si le-au dat la cuconele, 
Busuioc verde pe masã, 
Rãmâi gazdã sãnãtoasã, 
Busuioc verde-nflorit, 
Rãmâi doamne fericit.
Lavinia Neata & Dan Selea, "Stirbei Voda" Highschool Calarasi, Romania 
Teacher coordinator: Marinela Dinca 
Winter Holidays Carols 

All Christmas traditions are an important chapter in the Romanian children' folklore. The carols are a sort of invocation in verse, sung by children on the evenings of Winter Holidays. These folk creation were born long ago… 

"Do you receive the pretty star, 
Pretty and so very bright? 
It has appeared on the Earth 
Just like God thought it would be right, 
And it could be seen on high, 
Just like me did, in the sky." 

Before the "Star Carols" on the Christmas Eve, children used to sing the following introduction: 

"Good morning, Christmas Eve, 
Do you give us some gifts, do you?" 
The host was giving them nuts, apples, pears, and even coins. 
The children also sing a carol related to the "myth of the eternal return: 
"Great' the night of present night 
And it's not the present night 
But the night of Christmas Eve, 
Christmas Eve of the old times 
When the Holy Son was born, 
Holy Son on this good Earth…" 

"Rain is warm and bathes Him, 
Snow keeps falling, doesn't touch Him…" 

The Romanian carols have an inner universe in which it can depict one of the Romanian nation's spiritual dimensions, its insight into time and space. 

Petru Dumitru
School 10 Focsani, Romania

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