Christmas Traditions in Romania

My high school students singing carols at my door. They did a pretty good job!

My high school students singing carols at my door.              They did a pretty good job!

Stuffed cabbage (sarmale) for Christmas dinner.

Stuffed cabbage (sarmale) for Christmas dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Romanians Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the year and it is celebrated on the 25th of December. People need to prepare themselves for the celebration of Jesus’ birth by purifying their bodies and therefore, according to the Romanian Orthodox Church, they do not eat any kind of animal by-products during the four weeks prior to Christmas.

Caroling is one the most popular Christmas traditions in Romania; the children are those who begin caroling, usually on Christmas Eve day. In many villages from traditional regions they wear specific traditional clothes for this occasion.  However, in the cities they have just the bells and perhaps some Christmas type hats. Being a teacher by profession, I get many carolers – students or even former students – and it is my pleasure to welcome them into my house with cookies and soft drinks.

Romanian pastry,  a sweet bread with cocoa and crushed wall nuts.

Romanian pastry, a sweet bread with cocoa and crushed wall nuts.

Christmas carols may involve carolers dressed as bears or as goats. Some might wear quite hideous masks to scare off the old year.

Finally, another caroling tradition is called ‘Plugusorul’ (rough translation – ‘The Small Plow’), which is mostly spoken – not sung – and  is meant to wish listeners a good and fruitful year. That takes place on the last day of the year.

Traditionally, women cook for three days before Christmas and then the whole family celebrates Christmas for three days (from the 25th to the 27th)! It takes that long to eat all that food!

It is almost a must to have the stuffed cabbage (stuffed with pork, beef, rice, onion, and thyme) cooked slowly in a ceramic pan, homemade pork sausages with pickles, head cheese, and sweet bread (home made as well) filled with cocoa and crushed walnuts. We top everything off with homemade wine! Some may need some pills to help them digest everything!

Wouldn’t you like to try some of it?! We are waiting for you to indulge yourself with Romanian goodies.

 

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