Customs and traditions

mother's day

Since 1975, on March 8th has been celebrated the International Women’s Day “to commemorate the historic struggle to improve women’s lives”. It is celebrated around the world at the local and national levels.

When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.

In Romania, women receive flowers and presents and go out without their husbands to celebrate this day.



Mărţişor is the traditional celebration of the beginning of the spring. The day’s name is the diminutive of March and thus means something like “little” or “dear March”. It is a symbol of spring, “a good luck charm” in english and a “ porte-bonheur” in french.

The white and red thread of the amulet (a coin, money cowrie) which parents customarily tied around their children’s wrist, young men offered to young women, and young women used to exchange among themselves was believed to bring good luck and good health.It is also a a gift of sincerity, of devoted love, is a gift of the nobility of our soul. It’s an ancient tradition wich still lives.

The legend of the Mărţişor says that Baba Dochia was going through the woods with the sheep and she founded an apple and she made a “ borta” and tied with a thread attached. This action happens in a day of March 1 and then the habit expanded.

But about Mărţişor started to talk later, the first information being provided by folklorist Simion Florea Mihai.

burebistaThe territory of Romania that we all know today was occupied in the year 200burebista-2 before Christ by a tribe called “the Dacians” that belonged to the big Thracian family. Under the rule of Burebista (82 – 44 b. Cr.), the first centralized state of the Dacians was formed. It was called Dacia. After the death of Burebista, who was killed by one of his servants, the state was divided, but it was reunited by the year 87 under the rule of Decebal. During Decebal’s rule, Dacia went through two wars with the Romans, and its territory was conquest by emperor Traian in 106. Years later, because of the successive invasions of the German tribes, the Roman administration had retired from Dacia. Many other barbarian invasions followed.

mihai-viteazuIn the 13th Century some little pre-state formations were created, and anticipated the birth of the Principals of Moldova, Tara Romaneasca and Transylvania. These three Principals had many battles with the Ottoman Empire. In an attempt to protect these Principals, and to create a strong state that clouds withstand the ottoman fury, ruler Mihai Viteazul united the three Principals into one state by the year 1600. This union was undone a year later, after Mihai Viteazul was killed by general Basta. At the end of the 17th Century, Hungary and Transylvania become part of the Hapsburg Empire, after they defeated the Turks. In 1718 an important part of Tara Romaneasca called Oltenia was incorporated in the Austrian Empire. A few years later the Austrian Empire also occupied the north-east of Moldova, called Bucovina, while Basarabia was occupied by Russia in 1812.

Saint Andrew
saint-andrewRomanians celebrate Saint Andrew as a patron saint on the 30 November. The night of Saint Andrew is destined to some pre-Christian customs for the protection of the people, animals and households. Also, the eve of this feast is considered to be the moment when the barrier between the real world and the yonder world rises. It is also a good moment to find out how fruitful the next year will be.


Saint Nicholas
saint-nicholasOn the 6th of December the kids wait inpatient to find out what gifts Saint Nicholas put into their shoes. It may happen, if a child wasn’t good enough during the last year, that Saint Nicholas brigs a little rod to that kid.




christmasThis feast brings to life a lot of other customs. In the first day of Christmas carol singers sing Christmas carols holding in their hands a carton handmade star. They go to each house of the village or to each apartment from the block singing carols receiving little gifts in change, or money. An other tradition is the decoration of the Christmas Three.



The Easter
easterThe Easter means for the Romanians both the resurrection of Christ and the renewal of their everyday life. Everyone dresses with their best clothes and goes to the midnight mess. Candles are lightened for each person during the mess for bringing the sacred light into their souls and houses. It is also said that these candles protect those who carry them back home from thunder, lightening and injury. The custom is to celebrate Easter wits Easter cake and red eggs.

The New Year
new-yearThe celebrating of the New Year was also allowed during the communist regime because it didn’t have a religious connotation. The tradition says that no one should spend this night alone. On the 31st of December the villagers perform a traditional procession with a decorated plough wishing their neighbors “A Happy new year!”. On the 1st of January children throw wheat seeds over the neighbor’s lintel washing them prosperity.

funeralThe funeral customs were inherited from the Romans. They used to plant a cypress tree in front of the house of the deceased. Nowadays this custom was modified, so the people use a fir, or a regular tree. Sometimes the family of the deceased hires a lamenter for the funeral; otherwise the late is lamented by his wife, niece or the women in the village. When someone is on his death bed the family calls for the priest to perform an extreme unction by reading from the Bible, so the soul of the dying man lives the body easier.

weddingThe religious ceremony takes place Saturday in the evening, being followed by a party during the night, and a festive dinner. Usually the party lasts until Sunday morning, and because the wedding guests are tired, will sleep during the Sunday mass, which is considered a very big sin. There are some periods of the year when weddings can’t be celebrated; this is why the calendar must be carefully consulted before planning a wedding. The wedding is preceded by an engagement and recalls both members of the young couple being Christians. In the meme time the godfathers must be Christians, married and must have a moral family life so they can be a model for the young couple. The ceremony is hold by a priest who blesses the union of the young couple.

The Fate

fateThe belief in Fate and their power to foretell the faith of every human being was and still is a very well rooted belief between the Romanians, especially those who live in the countryside. This custom was inherited from the Romans. There are three so called fairies that come in the odd nights from the first week of life of the new-born child and foretell its faith.

The Baptize

The midwife tradition in the baptize of the new-born child is still very strong. The tradition says that the role of the midwife is important because she carries the child to the church where the baptize takes place saying “I carry a pagan; I’ll bring back a Christian”. When the godfather takes the baby from the midwife, he gives her a silver coin to pay her.