Romania’s Christmas traditions are some of the best reason to visit the country this time of year. From cheerful groups of children singing carols from door to door to mouthwatering dishes and various habits passed from generation to generation, the country of Dracula is one of the best places to really experience the Christmas holidays.
Some of these customs and traditions are old, some are new, but for sure they all are authentic.
Christmas season in Romania kicks off right after St. Andrew’s Day (November 30), when according to local legends, vampires and evil spirits come to light. The period leading up to Christmas is filled with wonderful celebrations, including Romania’s National Day (December 1st) and Saint Nicholas (Mos Nicolae), when all children receive gifts. This last custom has started to be popular during Communism, as a alternative to Santa Claus.
Pork on every table
Pig slaughter may sound horrible, but tradition in Romania says that, just days before Christmas, every Romanian should make their Christmas meal from pork.
Each year, on Ignat Day (St. Ignatius), on December 20th, Romanian families throughout the countryside sacrifice their pig in order to have a rich meal for Christmas. It may sound cruel, but behind the horror, there’s a very complex ceremony as old as the country that includes also preparing the meat in a very traditional manner, from all sorts of sausages to smoked meat and melted fat..
In Romania, Christmas has always been a great opportunity for family members to get together in order to spend some time in the warm, loving, and cozy atmosphere of their home. Millions of Romanians living abroad come home for Christmas.
However, during Christmas, most Romanian houses are filled with neighbors, friends, relatives, and good will – a pleasant, comfortable jamboree where everyone giggles, dances, cooks, and tells stories. Carol singers constantly knocking at the door and colorful decorations throughout add a cheerful festive touch to the scene.
Romanian Christmas Food- a unique experience
Food is probably the best part of Christmas in Romania.From smoked ham, bacon, sausages, liver sausage, pig’s trotter, and other delicious Romanian dishes, like sarmale (delicious meat-and-rice rolls wrapped in cabbage/sauerkraut, served with polenta, hot pepper, and sour cream) and cozonaci, a sort of sponge cake with nuts, cocoa, and Turkish delights.
Christmas dinner is a rich, multi-course meal, with highlights including roasted pork, pickled vegetables, the delicious boeuf salad.
Probably the most beautiful part of a Romanian Christmas is the laborious, magical suite of carols that can be heard all over the country during this wonderful time of the year.
Often accompanied by wishes for health, prosperity, and fulfillment, Romanian carols are far from being just simple Christmas songs. They usually come together with rituals, special costumes and tools, as well as peculiar theatrical performances, generating a genuine spectacle. Some of the most popular are Steaua (the Star boys’ singing procession), Capra (The Goat), and Plugusorul.
Whether religious songs, pure folklore, or theatrical performances, Romanian Christmas carols are especially wonderful and full of meaning.