Cultural Fiesta Initiatives for Museums

Christmas in Romania-Keep the tradition alive  

Village Museum

Christmas time- time to focus on tradition.  

By Merle

Living in an environment with a lot of European volunteers, made me aware of how different every country celebrates the holidays. Seeing these differences made me cherish the rituals of my own country. However, there is a question in our fast-paced times. How can we preserve these traditions and bring them closer to the next generations?   

Museums are seen as institutions, who are in charge of bringing traditions closer to the masses. With this image comes responsibilities. Our local partner, the Village Museum of Baia Mare, is hosting a Christmas event every year. On this example, I would like to showcase how a museum can create an interessting and interactive first- handed experience of old traditions for their visitors.   

Christmas traditions  

Capră

Christmas celebrations play a big role in Romanian cultural life.  

The preparations start 40 days before Christmas, with the fasting period. Every member of the household has an aligned role in arranging the perfect holiday experience. The tasks can be: cleaning the house, preparing food or slaughtering the animals. Even the children play a very big role during these festive times. They go from house to house singing traditional songs and reciting poems, to express their gratitude for the new born child. In return they are rewarded with bread and sweets. These so-called “colindători” are sometimes accompanied by “capră”; somebody who is dressed up as a goat, wearing colourful clothing and a mask and is often dancing to the songs.   

Christmas in Maramureș  

Brondoșii

The Christmas event is full of traditions. People from all over the region of Maramureș come together in the Village Museum to celebrate their deeply cherished traditions. The region contains four ethnographic areas, called “lands”. The main aspect of the event is bringing the lands together in one place. In this way they can showcase their traditional costumes and best culinary products.  

At every end of the Village Museum the carols of the “colindători” can be enjoyed. Thankfully, the visitors don´t have to carol in order to taste the delicious food of every land. The variety of traditional Christmas dishes is big. You can taste several types of meat, “Sarmale” (cabbage rolls), “Mămăligă” (Polenta), variations of stews, desserts and a lot more. Of course, you cannot leave without drinking the traditional alcoholic beverage “horincă”. However, the hosts are very generous and offer you more shots and food. So, be careful!  

Startling for the first time visitors may be the loud sound coming from the museum. This comes from the “brondoșii” . In order to keep away the bad spirits, these locals dress up with huge bells around their body, creating very loud sounds.   

Personal impression  

In conclusion, the visit of the museum is a wholesome, interesting and fulfilling experience. Experiencing traditions first handed in such a lively form gives tourists a deeper look into cultural life.  In addition, it also supports the locals’ connection to their own traditions, over and over again.  In that way they can be preserved for the next generations and live out for a long time.   

Preserve tradition by making it a fiesta for everyone!