It is December, almost the end of it, the cold it is here, we also have some snow, we are ready for winter holidays, you know Christmas and the night between years.
Hmm, Christmas we all celebrate it, or almost all.. but what do we celebrate? Most will say the birth of Christ. Some will say we celebrate Christmas on an old pagan holiday.
Before saying more, let’s make a little travel in time and see a bit how things started…After that, I will tell you some of the traditions I have in my country. So grab my hand, and let’s see how it all started.
Long ago, on 25 December, people celebrated, at least the Romans, Sol Invictus the Sun God, who was the patron of soldiers. In 274 A.D., 25 December, the cult became the official cult in Roman Empire along with the other Roman cults. Sol Invictus represented the Unconquered Sun. The cult was so popular that the Sun God was on several coins at that time. This lasted until Constantine’s time. Constantine was the Emperor who adopted Christianity in all the Empire. Some argue that the day for Christ’s birthday wasn’t chosen precisely on the old pagan day for Sun God celebration. Still, as in many cases, the ancient pagan holidays were replaced with the new religion so the transition for people would be easier.
So now that we saw from where all started, let’s see how making gifts in this period started. All started in Christianity with the 3 heralds who came on Christ’s birth and brought gifts for the newborn to rule the world.
In Romanian tradition is says that Santa was a good, old guy who, when he found out that Maria was doe to give birth, he sent his wife to help her give birth in the stall. Later, when the child was born, he put the baby under an apple tree and gave apples to kids passing by. From here is supposed to begin the giving gifts. It is a legend that it is difficult to believe as apple trees are not with fruits in December around here, but who knows how were things then.
Another thing that we do on Christmas is decorating Christmas trees, so let’s see how this started. Let’s go a bit in time again. Romans times, it seems they used the fir tree branches to decorate houses as a symbol of life after the winter solstice.
Later it said that Saint Bonifacio ordered all oaks trees to be cut as they were venerated by pagans. In the process of cutting and falling of an oak tree, the other trees around fell as well except the fir tree. Since then, the tree has represented a symbol and started to be decorated on Christmas day.
Now grab my hand, and let’s have a walk while I’m telling you some of our traditions here, in my country.
First, we start with a sacrifice ( I told you every religion has some old pagan remains). On 20 December, we traditionally cut a pig. They will choose it, make the crucifix sign on his forehead, and then kill it. Kids will come for a ride on a pig and for what we call charity pig. Kids will receive some skin pork that was scorch to have some bites.
Women will gather the meat to use it in the days that will come to prepare food. Some of the traditional dishes will be sausages, pig’s trotters, tobă(a mix of boiled organs), later on, Christmas day sarmale. There will be some sweets also some cake sponge, some pies.
Kids go to carol people to bring good fortune for those who open their home for them and bad luck for those that don’t let them in, but they will also receive fruits, bagels, or money. The carols herald the birth of Christ and also chase away evil spirits.
Before Christmas, women( unfortunately mostly just women ) clean all the house. Some also put garlic around the house to chase away dead spirits who may want to come in a little unwanted visit. Tradition says you shouldn’t do cleaning on Christmas day or throw the garbage out. That will mean that you throw your luck out. You won’t see what that :). After they are done with the cleaning, women will start cooking ( I wonder what the men will do )…
Suppose you want to know how you will be with health, on the day before Christmas. In that case, you shall grab an apple (preferably not from a supermarket because that won’t work for sure) and split it in two. If the apple had maggots, you would be sick next year, if the apple is rotten, then you shall die, and of course, if the apple shall be good, then you shall be healthy all the year.
Another tradition is just for women. Mostly they are busy with cooking. So they shall get some dough on their hands and go to a fruit tree. Most of the tradition applies to the countryside, if you live in a city and go out with dough on your hands, you will make all the doors dirty. You will have to search some time, some few streets maybe until you find a tree that can have eating fruits and then anyway won’t be yours and go to the tree and say how this dough is so the tree to bear many fruits. In some regions, women make dough that is good to use when you or the animals you have around( if you have) have a” evil eye” problem.
Also, young women that are not married can put some food under their pillow to dream of their future husband( well, you might have a nightmare.. I wouldn’t recommend it ).
Another tradition is to put a silver coin in freshwater ( also that will be better in the countryside, fresh water on tap hmm I don’t think the ritual would work :))) after you do this you shall use to water to wash your face so you will be beautiful all year.
Before Christmas day you should fast, and on Christmas day you can enjoy all the food and drink you want. Tradition also says that on this day and the days that come, the doctors from hospitals have a lot of patients that indulged themselves with too much food, so be careful to not become one of them. Food won’t vanish that quick …you can eat the next day too.
I hope you enjoyed this little trip. There will be many things to say about this tradition, but I tried not to get you bored, so I made it a bit shorter. I hope you will grab my hand soon and come to enjoy with me another trip. Until then I wish you a time and be happy about this holiday.