The traditions and customs of the North East region of Romania (Moldavia) are one of the most beautiful and exciting customs that our country is proud of.
The traditions scrupulously kept on Christmas, Easter, New Year’s Eve, 1st of March, Wedding or any other important event during the year represents the legacy of our ancestors to be transmitted from generation to generation. Moldavia is one of the fewest regions in Romania which, in the 21st century can be proud of having conserved and having perpetuating the traditional values.
Traditions and customs in occasion of the 1st of March
The 1st of March (“Martisorul”) is an authentic Romanian feast. In the North East regions of Romania, it is also called “Mart” or “Marte” . The date of 1st of March, the day of “Martisor”, marks here the beginning of the Days of Old Dochia (“Babele”), each having a significance.
If in many regions of the country, the boys are the ones who give the trinket (“Martisor”), in certain parts of Moldavia, the custom is reversed – the girls are the ones who gave the spring symbol to the boys.
Easter traditions and customs
A central element of the Easter traditions in the Moldavian people is “Pasca” (a cheese cake). It is piously made by the housewives previously preparing themselves by a purification and praying ritual. It is prepared only with selected and “clean” ingredients. “Pasca” is blessed in the church, in the night of the Resurrection of Christ – to which all the village’s inhabitants participate- and it is being eaten, first upon waking up, in stead of Eucharist bread or “ Paste”.
Unlike other regions, where at midnight, you can hear singing only “Christ is Risen”, marking the Resurrection of Christ, in Moldavia, it is a moment marked by shot guns or snaps. These have the role of chasing away the evil spirits.
The single girls go on the Resurrection Night to Church and wash up the steeple with clean water, and in the Easter morning wash themselves with this water on the face just to be loved by the single boys from the village. According to the tradition, the boys loving single girls have to go to the girls houses and give them a red egg.
The eggs painting and reddening are other rituals that can be found in the Moldavian regions, the traditional lamb meals and the pound cake (“cozonac”) prepared by the skilful housewives can be found on the table.
Traditions and customs for Christmas and New Year’s Eve
The Christmas Holiday is the feast with the biggest number of traditions and popular customs. For the peasants there is no Christmas without fasting – which begins on the Shrovetide- carols or traditional pork meals (“toba”, “caltabosi”, sausages, meat jelly, forcemeat roll of cabbage, “poale-n brau”, but also the Moldavian pies or ”cozonac” ). On the Christmas Day, the tables of the peasants have to be full of traditional meals prepared by the housewives with a lot of holiness and diligence on the day before.
In Moldavia there is the tradition of trimming the Christmas Tree. Some housewives still use an ancient tradition – they adorn the house with plants – basil, crinkled mint, marjoram(plants for fortune and frequently mentioned in their carols)..
Here, going from house to house and sing is one of the traditions of which the natives are proud the most. The roar of the preparation for cheering begins with many weeks before the Christmas Eve when the young men gather and start to plan the ancient ritual. There is a detailed planning of the number of carols and the persons singing the carols, their election, but also the preparation of the popular costumes. It is previously established the route on which they should go, so, no house shall be without carols. The cheers and the announcement of the Resurrection of Christ are rewarded by the countrymen with nuts, round bread or apples.
The tradition says that in the Christmas Eve you should not take the garbage out and you should not borrow things. The single girls have the occasion to see their predestined husbands in their dreams if they put small pieces from the preparations for the holiday on their window.
The main tradition for the New Year’s Eve is the responsibility of the young men and children. They are responsible to announce the New Year by a lot of games and carols specific to their region: playing “capra”, “ursul” or “caius”
Wedding traditions and customs
Some of the old customs in a wedding, which is still practiced in certain parts of Moldavia is “announcement of wedding”. The tradition says, that on the wedding day, the spouses families- with the spouses, go from door to door, with “tuica” (plum brandy) or wine to call the countrymen to the feast.
Other custom, specific to this region is related to the selection of the spiritual parents. In the Moldavian tradition, the spouses have several pairs of spiritual parents. Based on their social position in the community, they can choose 15-20 pairs to marry them.
Among other authentic tradition there is also the hen dance, the trimming of the tree or the bride’s shower.
In Moldova, weddings are big business.
Let’s start with the dress. Most dresses are couture or one-of-a-kind, created especially for the bride. The attendants wear sashes and are actually the marrying couple’s godparents to the marriage. A couple is chosen who’s marriage will be a good example and they can go to for advice.
The civil ceremony is first and essensial. The reception will typically start at 7pm and goes all night. Yes, grandmas dancing till 5am. The tables are covered with plates of food served family-style. When one plate is taken away, another is presented in it’s place. Moldovan couples do not register for gifts. Money is given in envelopes. It would be considered rude to give less than one month’s salary. The godparents we have met gave two years savings. At the reception each person is expected to stand and announce the amount they have given. Nothing like peer pressure to force you to hold on tradition. The couple spends the money to buy an apartment or house.
There is live music and techno music to dance to all night. Many toasts and so much happiness you wish you could bottle it up and donate it to those in need.
If you are ever invited to a Moldovan wedding, do not shy away from the opportunity because of the money aspect. It is a grand and memorable event you will not regret or forget.