Photo by Constanta Kleo

Romania travel: The traditions of Romanian people

 

Romanians are very connected to their traditions, having one for every important event in their life such as weddings, baptisms, religious holidays, and the passing between seasons. These customs may seem weird to outsiders, but to the Romanians, they are a way of keeping in touch with their cultural identity. Travel to Romania and experience one of the Romanian traditions below.

“The Cross Sign”

 
 

 

In Romania, you will see many people walking on the streets and then making the cross sign with their hands. This habit is very common here, as Romanians are usually religious people, and, each time they pass by a church, they make a cross. This might seem a bit odd for a foreigner, but it is their way of showing their faith in God.

The night before “Bobotează”, Epiphany

 
 

 

On the night before the holiday of the Epiphany, or ‘Bobotează’ (the day when Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan River by John The Baptist), on January 6, girls and unmarried women will dream about their future husband. They have to put a small branch of dried basil (which must be sanctified by a priest) under their pillow.

“Kidnapping” of the bride

 
 

 

There are many customs that are respected on the wedding day. One of these includes kidnapping of the bride. At some time after the religious ceremony, a group of guests “kidnap” the bride. The bride only may return if a symbolic ransom is paid. The height of the ransom is negotiated with the groom over the phone. Once the ransom is “paid” (in some cases by the groom, in others, by the godfather, depending on whether the kidnapping takes place before or after midnight), the bride may return to her new husband, and the party will go on. This pretended kidnapping is not dangerous at all, as most brides want to be kidnapped during their wedding. The kidnappers usually take them to clubs/pubs, so it’s more of a fun experience.

Three spring traditions in Romania

1. Romanian tradition: “Mărțișor”

 
 

 

On the 1st of March, Romanians give each other small trinkets tied with a red and white string with hanging tassels, to celebrate the start of spring. These trinkets are usually wornpinned to clothes, on the left, in front of your heart. Men sometimes also give flowers, mainly snowdrops, as they symbolize spring. The combination of red and white in the same string signifies the duality of life and death.

2. “Babele”

Photo by Anton Darius

Babele means literally “the old women” in Romanian, this custom also celebrates the beginning of spring. Romanians select a day: from the 1st to the 9th of March. The selected day will forecast how the year will be. If the weather during that day is bright and shiny, then your year will also be prosperous and joyful; if it is rainy and cloudy, then you will have a not-so-great year.

For example, the people that picked the 7th of March as their "baba" (that's how I say it) - which started off as a rainy day but ended with sunny weather - their year will encounter some hardships, but near the end of the year, everything will be fine.

3. “Mucenici”

 
 

 

“Mucenici” is a Christian holiday which takes place on March 9th. It marks the feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. On this day, it is customary that Romanians bake a type of dessert called “mucenici”, which is made out of sweetened dough that is boiled and seasoned with sugar/honey, cinnamon and walnuts/nuts. The dough is shaped like the number 8. The very traditional people bake 40 mucenici, to correspond with the number of the fallen martyrs.

These are just a few of the many traditions that Romanians practice, and almost all of them are done with a unique twist, depending on the region of the country or the people that celebrate it. However, you should know that once you decide to visit Romania, you decide to meet fascinating people from which you certainly will learn something.

Written by Lorena from Romania