The winter is great in Romania

With Christmas fast approaching it’s time to start planning those winter holidays. Whilst the winter sports enthusiasts will be busily checking the snow-forecast and shopping for thermal underwear there will be many more looking for a little winter sun in order to escape the bleakness of the short cold days. If you wish to spend few days of the white season in Romania you might find the following quite interesting...


Some of the many highlights that make a tour in Romania simply surprising are the winter holidays, the most original and spectacular local spiritual celebrations. Truly in full-swing from December 24 to January 7, the unique variety of colorful Romanian customs and believes, folklore and artistic events start on Christmas Eve, go through the New Year and end on Epiphany. These one of-a-kind-traditions specific to the most joyous season vary from region to region and are almost unaltered at all in the small remote villages, especially in Maramures and Moldavia. However the most common and best known are Steaua (The Star), Capra (The Gout), Ursul (The Bear), Plugusorul (The Little Plough) and Sorcova.

On Christmas Eve right after the sunset, children of all ages go caroling from house to house. As a sign of their performance appreciation the adults welcome them with all kind of treats: pretzels, nuts, apples and other fruits, cakes, cookies, candies, honeycombs and money. A couple of hours later groups of adult carolers, each one with a leader, sing and dance in the front yards of the houses before the hosts invites them inside for drinks, food and presents. The song you will here for all 3 days of Christmas holidays is Steaua for which the children made stars of colored paper – sometimes decorated with shiny tinsels – to hold while singing:

“Steaua sus rasare /Ca o taina mare /Steaua straluceste /Si lumii vesteste…”

(The star is rising up, /Like a big mystery, /The star is shining, /And is heralding to the world…)

On New Year’s Day the children recite the congratulatory verses ofPlugusorul on the streets andSorcova in house to their families.

The Little Plough is a custom arisen from “Carmen arvale” Roman’s way to wish for crops’ protection. The children and teenagers welcome in the coming year wishing for fertile farm fields while making noises with a little decorated plough, bells, whips and pipes.

“Aho, aho, copii si frati, /Stati putin si nu manati, /Langa boi v-alaturati /Si cuvantul mi-ascultati.”

(Ahoy, ahoy, children and siblings, /Wait a minute and don’t drive, /Near oxen you join /And my word you listen.)

Traditionally Sorcova was made of one or more apple, cherry, pear or plum tree twigs put in water in a warm place on Saint Andrew’s Day (November 30) in order to bud and blossom on New Year’s Eve. But nowadays it can be also a little stick adorned with artificial flowers of different colors. In the morning of New Year the children slightly hit on the back their parents, relatives, neighbours and other acquaintances wishing them in special verses health, luck and a Happy New Year.

“Sorcova, vesela /Să trăiţi, să înfloriţi /Ca un măr, ca un păr /Ca un fir de trandafir /Tare ca piatra /Iute ca săgeata /Tare ca fierul /Iute ca oţelul /La anul şi la multi ani !”

(Sorcova, the merry /May you live and blossom /Like an apple tree, like a pear tree /Like a rose thread /Strong as the stone /Fast as the arrow /Strong as the iron /Fast as the steel /To the next year and Happy New Year !)

Cristina Paraschiv

Personal travel concierge and designer of exquisite experiences in Romania, Kryss has extensive knowledge about this less known destination. For the last over 18 years spent in hospitality field she enjoyed exploring countries like Malta, Germany, Austria and Czech Republic as much as revealing to others where and when to come on her native land to get the utmost of the still lively traditions, ...(Read More)

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