Regained Christmas – Christmas in Romania

20 years ago, after the fall of communism, Romanians earned their right to celebrate Christmas again.

Before 1989, Christmas was a forbidden word; but, in spite of these restrictions, most of us preserved traditions in our own homes.

In the Romanian villages tradition says that you must clean your house thoroughly, days before Christmas.

There is also a very important custom (called “Ignat”, in the honour of Saint Ignatius), to sacrifice a pig on the 20th of December, when the snow snow have already fallen and is cold enough.

Then, during 2 or 3 days before Christmas women prepare various delicious pork sausages, bacon and other mouth-watering meals like “sarmale“, made of pickled cabbage leaves stuffed with a mixture of pork and beef, rice, pepper and other spices. And also roasted pork and as a desert, “cozonac“, a cake filled with nuts and raisins.

Another beautiful custom is “Colind” (Romanian word for carol) – a group of people, usually dressed in folk costumes, who go from house to house singing Christmas carols, till morning. They are received in every house with great joy, because, according to tradition, they bring fortune and happiness . They receive knot-shaped bread and cakes, apples, nuts and money.

On Christmas Eve, the fir tree is brought into the house and decorated by the family members. Children believe that “Mos Craciun” (Romanian for Santa Claus) is the one who brings them presents, so they sometimes write letters to him to ask for their favourite ones: sweets, chocolates, toys, games, books and many more. But not only children receive presents from Santa; the adults in the family find theirs under the fir tree too, on the Christmas Eve.

Romanian Christmas tree

First Day of Christmas is usually spent with all the family around the table, after attending the Christmas church service; the other two days are reserved for friends or neighbours.

For most of us, urban people, a lot of Christmas magic has lost.
We have Christmas lights in the streets, Christmas fairs with tons of Christmas presents to buy, a lot of Christmas events and concerts to attend and an abundance of meals on our tables.

But we can’t find the Christmas peace and harmony any more.

Come again tomorrow to find out more about Christmas in Catalunya.

Read more:
Christmas around the World
White Christmas? – Christmas in the UK
Windy Christmas – Christmas in Costa Rica

About the author

Carmen Cristal
Carmen was born and raised in Bucharest, the city where she currently lives. She worked in the Sales Department of a radio station for 15 years. Along with some friends, Carmen recently founded a small company that deals with website development and online promotion. She loves English, listening to music, establishing connections and meeting new people and has a real passion for Ireland. Carmen is attracted by foreign cultures and she likes very much to travel (whenever it is possible!)
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  • Thanks for this Carmen! I enjoyed watching the videos of carol singing. I’m glad you can celebrate Christmas again.

    So the Romanian Christmas lasts for 3 days? Here in the UK we have Christmas day (25th) and Boxing day (26th). Then back to work!

  • I honestly didn’t know we had 3 Christmas days; it’s the Christmas Eve, Christmas day and the 2nd day of Christmas; after that, it’s the 27th – St Stefan’s day.
    Which part of the country are you from?

  • Well, that’s the way I’ve learnt from my mother and grandmother. With a generic term we call those three days “Christmas Days” : Christmas Day, the 2nd Christmas Day and the 3rd Christmas day (which is also St Stephan;s Day). I’m from Bucharest.
    Thank you for your interest & question.

  • Thank you Liz – I’m glad you enjoyed the videos – maybe you could visit Romania at Christmas time some day and see it “live”.
    As I’ve already write in my replay to Ana, it’s a generic term for the three Christmas Days.
    But only the first two are holidays !

  • marie

    I love all this Christmas information from around the world! Thanks for your post, Carmen, especially the link to the singing. It was really interesting to get to hear the language.

  • Thank you for your lovely words Marie.
    It’s really interesting to see how people around the world have different ways of celebrating Christmas, but, in fact, they are all so close of each other.

  • Nuria

    Great job Carmen! I loved all the info, everything is so interesting! :) I liked the video where they hand in the apples and bread…and the people dressed so beautifully. The language sounds great too, though I couldn’t understand any of the comments in youtube! lol

  • Thanks Nuria,
    Christmas traditions in that part of Romania (Transylvania) are indeed very interesting & beautiful.
    But they can be very demanding too. The people in the group must go to almost every house in the village. And after they sing, they usually enter the house and they are offered “cozonac” to eat and a glass of “rachie” or “palinca” ( an alcoholic drink) to drink (if they are adults, of course!). And they are supposed to drink it to the last drop. Otherwise it’s bad luck !

  • mare lucru ce ai facut