Christmas Celebration in Romania
As I have already wrote, on December 20th, people celebrate “the Ignat Day”, the sacrificial day when the pig is slaughtered. Even if you are poor and you cannot afford a pig, Romanians should sacrifice another animal. An old belief was that in the night before Ignat, the pig dreams of its knife.
Before he Christmas „Mos Ajunul” ( The Old before Christmas Man)„Plugusorul” (the little plough) Carols are sang and interpret it, little girls and boys come on the community doorstep and sing their carols. As a rewards they receive apples, nuts, pretzel and money nowadays. The singers invoke Nativity, Christianity but also their singing is like a praise for well being.
Christmas is the essence of Romanian food and family gatherings. Romanian food is almost rough; Romanians do eat for Christmas lard bacon, nicely smoked, cabbage rolls with minced meat (sarmale),polenta.
Almost all over Romanian, the priest blesses the feast, people bring form every meal they had cooked and the priest is the first to taste the meals, and only after that do the rest of the household start eating. The pig slaughter on Ignat day is a purely Romanian custom, some consider it barbarian, but it is incredible friendly and family involving. The house wife also cooks the cake, a specific Christmas cake, pastry like.
There are other customs like the Goat tradition (Capra), where people dress in goats and wear goat masks and costume and go from door to door in large groups, dancing on the flute tunes. this is an ancient Roman custom. Then there is the Bear custom (Ursul), known only in Moldavia, where young people dress up as bear and cubs and go out in groups to sing and dance but this tradition also kept.
In the Romanian Christmas traditions, within the typical Romanian family, there is a lot of love, poetry, fairy tales and respect. Whoever wants to get to know the Romanian spirit has to enter a Romanian house, especially during winter time. He will see the Romanian bowing to the East, where light comes from, and how he makes the sign of the cross before eating, or how before cutting the bread, the traditional Romanian woman makes the sign of the cross three times.