The whole month of December is a festive period for Romanians.
Celebrations start already on 30th November, St. Andrew’s day. On 1st December is Romania’s National Day. On 5th December, in the evening, children wait for the arrival of St. Nicholas/Mos Nicolae who leaves gifts in their shining boots. 6th December is St. Nicholas's day. Winter festivities end on January 7, with the celebration of Saint John.
Christmas evolved over two millennia into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many pre-Christian, pagan traditions into the festivities along the way. Today, Christmas is a time for family and friends to get together and exchange gifts. Only around half of those who celebrate view it as a religious holiday, while one-third see it as a cultural celebration, rather than one of faith.
Romania is rich, especially in rural areas, in traditions. I already described them in a previous post. Some traditions have been forgotten, while some have taken a different shape. The legendary visit of the three Magi – traditionally the Epiphania- has an echo in our days in the tradition of gifts giving. Romanians share gifts usually on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus – a more modern tradition – exists in Romania, although during the communist period Santa was replaced with the Frost Man (Mos Gerila).
Children go caroling on Christmas Eve. Carolers have bells, whips and drums and make noise to dispel the evil spirits. From Christmas until Epiphany, they also visit the houses in the neighborhood singing the Carol of The Star and other religious carols, holding a stick with a Star made of cardboard or other materials on top of it. On the first day of the New Year they walk again from house to house chanting a song about luck, throwing rice in the doorways of their receivers.
You may listen to a group of children singing the traditional Carol Steaua/The Star