Volunteering Stories: About Christmas in Romania – by Megane

Hello, my name is Megane, I am 25 years old and I’m a volunteer in the association Team for Youth in Baia Mare, Romania. I come from Angers, a city in the West of France.

In France, many Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, but Christmas has become highly secularized and is no longer necessarily celebrated as a religious holiday. The main value of this day, December 25th, is to gather as a family, share a big meal and exchange gifts. But what about Christmas in Romania? How is it like? I wanted to ask Romanians some questions about their way of celebrating this magical day that holds a special place in my heart.

Ana-Maria HRENIUC MOROSAN and Monika SZEKELY were willing to share with me their thoughts of Christmas holidays;

Ana-Maria is a twenty-four years old student in geology and geophysics, aspiring to be an engineer. She lives in Suceava, Romania. Monika is a mom of a fifteen days baby boy, she works as a software tester for an IT company in Baia Mare, Romania.

What are Christmas days like for you and your family?

Ana-Maria: For me and my family, Christmas is one of the most important celebration in the year. We spend quality time together, enjoying the presents and the food, listening the carols and many other things which brings us happiness.

Monika: Christmas days are a time for relaxing and gatherings with family and friends. It is true that before Christmas, there is a lot of hustle and bustle about cleaning the house, doing a lot of cooking and shopping for presents. But after everything is in place, we start enjoying all the traditions of Christmas.

How long does the celebration last in your country?

Ana-Maria: In Romania, the celebration of Christmas last three days, it begins on December 25th and ends on December 27th.

Monika: There is Christmas Eve, when children are going from house to house caroling. Then on Christmas day, we usually all go to church and have lunch with the family. On the second and third day, we all visit relatives and friends, catching up and tasting the goodies each lady of the house prepared.

What are the traditions during those days?

Ana-Maria:  We have a lot of traditions in our country, depending on the place where we live.

Monika: Decorating the Christmas tree, caroling, going to church, having dinner with family on Christmas Eve and meeting friends on following days.

Do you wear a traditional outfit during those days?

Ana-Maria: I’m not wearing any kind of costume, but in some parts of the country some people wear the traditional clothes named “costum national”.

Monika: It is considered a time of the year to dress up, meaning you are putting on the “good clothes”. In the villages, this means the traditional costume, while in the cities, it means something new, inspired from the west culture, with Christmas motifs or at least Christmas colors (red, green etc).

What is the food like on Christmas?

Ana-Maria: We eat almost everything, “sarmale”, “slanina”, “sorici”, “cozonac”, “racituri”, cakes and candies. We drink a lot of boiled wine too.

Monika: We usually eat pork, since Christmas is the time of the year to sacrifice the pig. “sarmale” with pork ribs with mashed potatoes is a traditional dish for Christmas Eve.

Do you sing Christmas songs (colinde)? Is it the same traditions for children and for adults?

Ana-Maria: Yes, we sing many Christians songs. Children are going together from house to house to sing “colinde” and they receive money or small gifts.

Monika: We do sing carols, but in the recent years or at least in the urban areas, it is indeed more common only for kids to go caroling to neighbors, friends and relatives.

Do you have a Christmas market during this time of year, and do you like to go?

Ana-Maria: Yes, we have in every big city a Christmas market from where we can buy decorations, food, gifts. We can also drink wine, hot chocolate, or tea.

Monika: In Baia Mare, the tradition of the Christmas market is quite new, but it got more and more popular. I used to go every year to ice skate, buy presents and take pictures. The decorations are always very beautiful. It is also a place and an opportunity to meet people you know from the city, since almost everybody is visiting the Christmas market.

What about this year (2020), with Covid19, will it change the way you are celebrating?

Ana-Maria: For me and my family, we will celebrate the same as usual.

Monika: Unfortunately, this year, because of Covid19, there will be no Christmas market and most probably, people will avoid visiting each other. I do not know if children will go caroling anymore and if we will be able to attend the church service. Hopefully, with the help of technology, we will be able to enjoy each other’s company.

What does Christmas mean to you? Do you usually like this time of year?

Ana-Maria: For me, Christmas represents one of the biggest celebrations of the year, Because I love this one. Spending time with family and friends is one of the most important thing in the world. Spreading love and receiving it back brings us joy and happiness!

Monika: I like a lot the Christmas time of the year, I like decorating the tree and the house, offering presents, cooking with mum or grandma… I love the snowy landscapes and the lights on people houses and everywhere in the city. Christmas is the period of the year when everyone tries to get home to family to have a good time.

A big thank you to Ana-Maria and Monika for sharing their views on Christmas in Romania.

Megane is a volunteer in the DOIT2 project, coordinated by Parcour Le Monde from France, and hosted in Baia Mare with the help of Team for Youth Association. The project is financed by the EU commission with the grant from the European Solidarity Corps program.