Posts filed under ‘Romania’

March 9, “Mucenicii”

picture from here

On March 9, we celebrated “Mucenicii”, a day celebrated in honor of the 40 Martyrs.

The 40 Martyrs were Christian soldiers under the pagan roman emperor Licinius, who were forced to worship pagan gods.

All forty men refused to reject God so they were imprisoned and beaten with stones for 8 days. After this they were sentenced to a cruel death: freezing in the cold lake of Sebaste. Forced to remove their clothes and enter the frozen lake, only death was waiting for them but in that night, a miracle made all the ice melt and the water was heated. A band of angels placed crowns on the heads of these dying saints. They were still living the next day so their legs were crushed and their bodies were sent to a riverside and burned.

There is also a legend that the number of martyrs was 44, not 40.

On this day, women use to make “mucenici” or “măcinici”, in the memory of these saints.

There are 2 types of making this dish: “mucenici/măcinici moldovenești” (named after a region of Romania, Moldova, at the east border with Moldavia; do not confuse with the country of Moldavia) and “mucenici/măcinici muntenești or dobrogeni” (also named after 2 regions of Romania: Muntenia and Dobrogea).

Women used to bake 40 or 44 mucenici/măcinici, a baked cake having the shape of the eight number, the number of cosmic balance and men drank 40/44 wine or brandy glasses.

I also cooked these dishes and I’m going to post the recipe and some pictures as soon as I’ll arrive home.


March 15, 2010 at 3:14 PM Leave a comment

Spring days and “Mărțișorul”

Finally, the spring arrived and brought with her a nice weather and a holiday mood.

After Valentine’s Day and Dragobete on February 14 and 24, the next in line for celebration are March 1 (“Mărțișorul“), 8 (Women’s Day), 9 (“Muncenicii”) and this year on March 28, “Floriile”.

Today I’m going to write about “Mărțisorul“.

“Mărțișorul” is celebrated on March 1 and is considered to be the first holiday of the spring. It’s name is the diminutive of “Martie” (March). More information you can find on Wikipedia.

I’m going to say what we do on this day: usually boys and men give “mărțișoare” or flowers to the girls, women colleagues, mothers, sisters and so on. Flowers given are usually spring flowers: snowdrops, hyacinths, Freesias, tulips even though you may also receive orchids or roses.

We have 2 best known legends regarding the “mărțișor” (pl.: “mărțișoare”):

1. This is the legend of the Sun who came to Earth like a beautiful girl (some Romanian regions said to be a handsome man). A dragon kidnapped her and birds stopped singing, children stopped playing and people were all sad. Seeing what happened after Sun’s disappearance, a courageous young man went fighting the dragon. They fought and, eventually,  the young man manage to kill the dragon and free the Sun but he was seriously injured. The Sun returned at her place in the sky and Spring came. People were very happy but the young man was lying on the dragon’s palace floor and bleed to death. Where the snow melt, snowdrops appeared announcers of the spring. Since then, people honor the memory of the young man by tiering with a thread 2 flowers: one red symbolizing love and the courage of the young man and one white, the color of the snowdrops – first spring flowers.

2. On March 1, the beautiful Spring came out to the edge of the forest and noticed a little white flower rising from the snow, covered by brambles. She wanted to help the little snowdrop, so she cleaned the snow around him. Being very furious on Spring, Winter decided to call the wind and frost to kill the flower. Spring protected the little snowdrop covering it with her hands but she hurt a finger and a drop of blood fell over the flower, bringing it to life. So Spring defeated the Winter and the colors of the “mărțișor” symbolize her red blood on the white snow.

The “Mărțișor” is like a talisman made of red and white threads. The classical red and white threads are often attached to a little object and offered to a woman. You can see below some models of them:

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The lucky ones are considered to be: chimney-sweeper, horseshoe and four leaf clover.

Young girls used to tie the “mărțișor” on their hand and take it off on April 1. Then, they had to tie the thread on a branch of a fruit tree so they will have a wealthy year. They also made a wish who is supposed to come true right away.

I received a lot of flowers and “mărțișoare” on March 1 and this reminds me of the friends I have. Don’t think it’s about the gifts because it’s not. The “mărțișor” represents a symbol and classical red and white thread is enough. If you can’t appreciate this symbol and want something more (like a jewel or something expensive), that can only means that you don’t appreciate the true meaning of this tradition (I’m disappointed to say there are a lot of this type of girls who want something big and expensive). If you want something expensive, wait until your birthday, don’t ruin a tradition with a selfish thing.

picture from here

Have a beautiful spring!

March 4, 2010 at 3:15 PM Leave a comment

Dragobetele kisses the girls

As I wrote before, on February 24, we celebrate Dragobete’s day, Romanian national day of love and friendship!

I wrote about “zburătorit” and about picking snowdrops:

So this time I want to write about customs of this day.

When boys were hugging the girls by surprise, it was supposed to take away their powers, so they said: “Your powers,\In my arms!” or “My fevers,\ On your bones!”. If the hugged girl had something fresh (grass, buds) in his shirt, the incantation had no effect upon her.

In the morning, people used to wear their holiday clothes, wash with spring water with a twig in it and say: “May my soul sprout and become young, like this twig.”

For having a good year, old people used to take care of the birds, including the “sky birds” and maidens used to pinch or walk on foot the boys they liked.

On this day, working is forbidden. It’s said that if you work, you’ll sing like all the birds. If you work the land, you’ll get sick of fevers.

All persons have to celebrate each year Dragobete’s day or else they will not be loved or love the whole year.

Girls used to wake up early in the morning, before the sunrise, and release the birds from their coops hopping that they will find their soul mate as fast as the birds.

It is good to clean the house so the good luck will come.

Everyone must have a mate in this day or else it will be a lonely year.

Dragobete is like a phantasm that comes out by stealth and kisses the girls so they will have good luck and to get married, that’s why on this day you may hear in all villages: “Dragobetele kisses the girls!”

February 24, 2010 at 2:12 PM 1 comment

Valentine’s Day vs. Dragobete

We are just a few steps away from Valentine’s Day. This day of February 14 is considered to be the holiday of love and friendship, the day when people share their love and affection.

As you may know, it’s a very common holiday held in many countries.

During the last years, Romanian people adopted this holiday, even though there are people who still consider it a superficial and commercial holiday.

Our national day of love is Dragobete, which is celebrated on February 24. “Dragobete” is supposed to be the son of Baba Dochia, a handsome tempestuous young man also called Birds Fiancé. On this day birds begin to build their nests and mate. His name is composed of the word “drag” witch means “dear”, word also found in “dragoste” (“love”).

“Dochia ill-treats her daughter-in-law by sending her to pick up berries in the forest at the end of February. God appears to the girl as an old man and helps her in her task. When Dochia sees the berries, she thinks that spring has come back and leaves for the mountains with her son and her goats. She is dressed with twelve lambskins, but it rains on the mountain and the skins get soaked and heavy. Dochia has to get rid of the skins and when frost comes she perishes from the cold with her goats. Her son freezes to death with a piece of ice in his mouth as he was playing the flute.

Another version of this story is that the son of Baba Dochia marries with a girl against her will. Angry with her son’s decision, she sends her daughter in law to wash some black wool in the river and tells her not to come back until the wool has turned white. The girls tries to wash it, but the wool would not change color. In despair and with her hands frozen from the cold water of the river, the girl starts crying, thinking that she would never be able to see her loved husband again. Then Jesus sees her from the sky and feels sorry for her, so he gives her a red flower telling her to wash the wool with that. As soon as she washes the wool as told by Jesus, it turns white so the girl happily returns home. When Baba Dochia hears about her story, she gets angry and thinks spring has come, since the man (who the girls had not recognized as being Jesus)was able to offer her a flower. She leaves for the mountains dressed in twelve coats. As the weather changes fast on the mountain, she starts throwing away her coats, one by one, until she is left with no coats. But as soon as she drops her last coat, the weather changes again and Baba Dochia is frozen on the mountain.” (source: wikipedia)

The first days of March,  from 1 to 9, are supposed to be Baba Dochia’s coats. Women used to pick a day out of these 9 beforehand, and if the day turns out to be fair, they’ll be fair in their old days, and if the day turns out to be cold, they’ll turn bitter when older.

On this day, symbolic engagements are also made  for the next year with the person you like or even engagements for those who intend to get married. Women used to touch a man outside the village in order to be liked the rest of the year.

“Dragobete” is considered the first day of spring, when boys and girls gather vernal flowers, especially snowdrops, and sing together. Girls used to run back to the village, custom named “zburătorit” (“a zbura” = “to fly”) and boys chased after them. If a boy caught a girl and the girl liked him, she would kiss him in front of everyone, kiss that would seal their engagement for the next year. Maidens used to collect the snow that still lies on the ground, named “fairy’s snow” and melt it, using the water in magic potions. Those who take part in Dragobete customs are supposed to be protected from illness for the rest of the year.

In my opinion, I don’t like Valentine’s Day. It’s just another holiday brought from American people, a day when speculators try to make more profit. You may think that this isn’t a bad thing but after seeing all the kiosks and shops filled with all those kitsch things, you’ll change your mind about it.I think that love is something you should share every day with the person you love, not just in a day like this when merchandisers try to sell all kind of stuffs. Why do we need so many presents to show our love? Are those presents that important for us?

Every country has it’s own traditions and customs and I want to celebrate the day of love after my own tradition, with the person I love, without expensive presents or plush stuffed animals.  Just me, him and the flames of our love…

February 9, 2010 at 1:35 PM 2 comments

Saint Nicholas is coming

On the night of 5/6 December we are waiting for Saint Nicholas to come.

How we get prepared for this evening? Well, first of all, we shine our boots and put them under the window. Then Saint Nicholas comes and leave us gifts if we were good, otherwise he put a stick in our boots. At least, that’s the plan.

Let’s see who Saint Nicholas was:

Once upon a time a man named Nicholas. His parents died when he was just a child, leaving him all the money they had and he decided to help the poor people. His neighbor was a poor noble who had 3 beautiful daughters. Being poor, his daughters can’t get married without a dowry.

When the time came for the first daughter to get married, Nicholas left in front of the door of the noble’s house a gold pouch, during the night. He also did the same thing for the second daughter. When the time came to get married for the third daughter, the noble man invigilated  to find out who has made so many good to her daughters. The noble man saw Nicholas and even if he asked him not to tell anyone about this, the word spread and every time somebody received something, they thank to Nicholas.

Saint Nicholas lived in the IV century, he was cardinal of Myra (now located in Turkey) and was recognized and honored as sacred since the sixth century. As a saint, Saint Nicholas was more generous with punishment than with reward. According to Christian tradition, he punished those who deviate from the right faith hitting them with a stick over their hands. This is why it’s said that disobedient children receive a stick in their boots instead of gifts.

I hope all of you will receive what you wished for!

December 5, 2009 at 11:30 PM 1 comment

Bucharest, turn on your lights!

General Mayor of Bucharest, Sorin Oprescu, turned on the lights in Bucharest today, at 18:00. The event took place in front of the Bucharest City Hall and was followed by a spectacular fireworks.

First stop was the Union Square where I usually could admire a Christmas tree. Well, this year, there was no tree, it was just a small Christmas fair.

I found a Christmas tree at University Square:

There are not so many lights compared to previous years.

It seems that the economic crisis has affected everyone, including City Halls which reduced the reserved budget for Christmas spending.

Below you can see some of the decorations:

Also this evening opened the Christmas Fair in Cişmigiu Park where, during the holidays, Bucharest people can enjoy a series of concerts so the next days I’m going  to take some pictures there ;).

December 5, 2009 at 10:30 PM Leave a comment

How Romanians spend National Day of Romania

Grand Assembly of Alba Iulia

Yesterday, 1st of December, was the National Day of Romania. In the year 1918, on December 1, 1228 official delegates along with masses from Transylvania came to Alba Iulia to sign the resolution for the unification of Transylvania with Romania.

How Romanians spent National Day?

Well, in Bucharest, at Triumphal  Arch  a military parade was held between 11.00 and 12.30. Nearly 10,000 people gathered to see the artillery exhibition by military forces, including tanks, armored cars and aircraft.

More pictures from this event you can find on the website of the Ministry of National Defense.

Thousands of people attended the military parade and parade of folk costumes from Alba Iulia, where all started. Dozens of local-ities brought delicious food in Alba Iulia for the Romanian National Day:

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In Bucharest, district Mayors waited for the Romanian parade to celebrate
with with beans-sausages and boiled plum brandy.

*picture from

If you ask me about how I spent the National Day… well,  I stayed at home. I got to know just the last night that I would be having the day off. There were many people who worked even on this day. It’s not a very special day for us, even if the authorities want us to believe it. Romanian bosses don’t understand that this day must be a free day for all the Romanians (excepting the ones that are working in transportation, health, fire and other categories as for if they would stop working, it would create chaos). They consider this day like any other and so we have to work. It’s a good thing that retirees were lucky enough for being able to queue for a bowl of food for free. I’m not the type who stands in the line in crowded and cold places for a beans and sausages bath.

Romanians usually crowd when it comes to something for free: food, drink or concerts.

Everything is perfect as long as it is for free!

December 2, 2009 at 11:10 PM Leave a comment

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