Though it’s celebrated with fireworks and parties like around the world, New Year’s Eve has its own charm in Romania where centuries-old customs and traditions are kept alive especially in the countryside.
New Year traditions in Romania are colorful and noisy, a mix of pre-Christian rituals, folklore, costumes, and dances.
The best way to enjoy the theatrics is to spend New Year Eve in a village.
On New Year’s Eve morning children go from house to house and recite or sing Plugusorul (the small plow) and wish people good health and a good harvest.
Later, adults dressed in traditional costumes play music and recite Plugul (the big plow.) In the past, they even used to bring a real plow drawn by horses or bulls.
The most colorful of New Year’s Eve traditions are the animal dances which are complex rituals of death and rebirth which hark back to agrarian lifestyle.
People dress up as goats, horses, and bears and dance with fictional characters like the devil, the gypsy, the soldier, the bride or the emperor.
The best-known custom is the ‘bear dance’ Romania’s largest mammal which roams the forests.
Nothing Goes Out – Nothing, not even garbage gets to leave the house on the first day of the year.
Food For Luck – We always cheer with a glass of champagne at midnight and the food on our table is said to bring good fortune. We eat grapes to make more money in the coming year and fish to have an easy year ahead.
Red for luck Wearing red underwear at the New Year’s party and having money in your pocket are other well-known customs.
Pay off your debts Also, it is well known that people should try to pay all their debts before New Year’s Eve, just so the New Year to be a good one. People don’t lend money or pay back loans on New Year’s Day because according to Romanian tradition you’ll be paying out all year.
Babies born on New Year’s Day are considered to be very lucky. People should also take care not to get upset or into a fight in the New Year’s Eve or the first day of the New Year, because it is believed that they will keep doing that for the rest of the year.
St Vasile Day
January 1 is Saint Vasile Day. Children go caroling and sing the Sorcova and l Plugusorul carols on the first day of the year.
Saint Vasile, or Saint Basil the Great, was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia,in modern-day Turkey.
It is said that he protects against evil spirits and built asylums and hospitals for the poor. Many Romanians celebrated their name day on January 1.