In Romania we celebrate Saint Nicholas, Christmas and New Year.
Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated on the night of December 5th, when children are cleaning and polishing their boots carefully and put them by the door or on the windowsill to wait for St. Nicholas’ (Moş Nicolae) visit. He is generous to parents as well as children, putting a little present in each boot. In some areas, branches or thin twigs are left as a warning that behavior needs to improve. It is one of the most important Romanian holidays.
Christmas is known as ‘Crăciun‘ in Romania and is celebrated on December 25th. The celebrations begin with the decoration of the Christmas Tree on Ajunul Craciunului (Christmas Eve). Romanian children receive presents from Moş Crăciun (Santa Claus) in the evening of Christmas Eve and do not leave milk and cookies out for Moş Crăciun.
Carols, called ‘colinde‘ in Romanian, are a very important part of the Romanian Christmas festivities. Throughout the Christmas season, children visit every house in the neighborhood singing carols such as Steaua sus răsare (The Star) and Moş Crăciun (Santa Claus) and reciting traditional poems and legends. In return for such performances, carolers receive apples, nuts, traditional cakes (cozonaci), and sometimes even money from each house.
Traditional Romanian Christmas meals include saramale (stuffed cabbage rolls) with mămăligă (polenta), many types of pork sausages, roast pork, pickles, beef salad. The traditional Christmas dessert is called “cozonac”. It is a rich sweet bread filled with ground walnuts, raisins, dried fruits, similar to the Italian panettone. It requires a long preparation time that begins early on the morning of Christmas Eve.
Romanians welcome the New Year with the traditions that have been around for centuries. The children as well as the adults, take part in the joyous celebrations with great enthusiasm. On New Year’s Eve in Romania, children sing Sorcova and Pluguşorul. The songs wish good luck, happiness and success.