In some Romanian areas, on Christmas Eve, farmers gather back everything they’ve lent during the year. In Mehedinti county, parents put coins in their children’s pockets, in order for them to have a beautiful New Year.
Also, on Christmas Eve, bread is placed under the table to bear luck for the whole familly, and wheat is placed under the table cloth, to bring good crops. In Romania, Christmas begins with fasting (as the majority is represented by the Orthodox Church), which takes six weeks (from November 15th to December 24th).
Fasting implies giving up on meat, eggs and milk, or like our grandfathers would say, restraining from sweet foods. A true fasting would mean giving up on physical love, on alcohol and paying back any dues. People from villages don’t listen to the radio during the fasting period, they don’t watch TV and they don’t throw or go to any parties. The fasting ends on Christmas night. nigh
On December 20th, people celebrate "the Ignat Day." On that day, they aren’t allowed to do any work, but prepare the pork. According to the tradition, those who are poor and have no pig (which is usually sacrificed and prepared at the farmer’s home) should sacrifice another animal.
An old belief was that in the night before Ignat, the pig dreams of its knife. Those who are faint at heart and feel sorry for the pig are not allowed to participate in this ceremony, unless it dies slowly and its meat is no longer good. Grandfathers usually make the sign of the Cross on their grandchildren’s foreheads, in order for them to be healthy.
Men and women start by cutting and preparing the lard bacon, the sausages and other traditional specialties. And thus, begin the preparations for the Christmas feast. Housewives choose meat for their delicious cabbage rolls, for steaks, and the grease for baking cookies.
In the old times, children were given pretzels, nuts and apples. Today, they receive money, candy and cookies. Both parents and children go carol-singing on Christmas Eve. The houses are beautifully adorned on that eve, perfectly clean and ready to receive the carol-singers. Carol-singing is a ritual made of ceremonial texts (carols), dances and gestures.
Carols give messages and wishes of good health, prosperity, good crops and the fulfillment of all wishes. Carol-singing is the most widespread Romanian tradition. Christmas Eve is a great opportunity for Romanians to visit their friends, neighbors and relatives.
In the Romanian Christmas traditions, within the typical Romanian family, there is a lot of love, poetry, fairytales and respect. Whoever wants to get to know the Romanian spirit has to enter a Romanian house, especially in wintertime. 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.
There are many, very beautiful traditions and customs that focus on the two great winter holidays: Christmas, i.e. the birth of our Lord Jesus, and the New Year’s Eve. Customs and traditions are common for all places on the planet…yet the hearts of the people are the most important during a feast.
As you already know, many celebrate Christmas but without The Celebrated One, without the One whose birthday Christmas is. Feast or no feast… without the very core of Christmas which is Jesus Christ Himself, Christmas is nothing but another tradition.