In Romania modern practices blend with ancient traditions to celebrate this special time of the year, from the end of November until January 7th .
The beginning of the winter season is St. Andrew Day on November 30th, for the patron saint of Romania, who preached the Gospel in Dobrogea, on the Black Sea Coast. The next day, on December 1st, is the National Day of Romania, when ceremonies are held all over the country. The most impressive are in Alba Iulia (the city where the Great Union was signed in 1918) and in Bucharest. Children eagerly await St. Nicholas Day, December 6th, as on this eve they receive gifts in their clean boots — or a colored stick if they’ve been naughty.
Christmas is celebrated from December 24th-26th, especially within the family. A magical suite of carols is sung during all of Advent, which starts on November 15th ,and especially on Christmas Eve, when groups of carol singers, children and adults, go from house to house, creating a special communion. The men’s caroling group is listed as UNESCO Intangible Heritage.
The New Year holiday lasts from December 21st to January 2nd and is rich in customs and traditions. Plugușorul (the little plough) is very popular both in the countryside and cities, full of joy and good wishes for the year to come. The winter season ends with Epiphany on January 6th and St. John Day on January 7th.
The saint days are also celebrated as name days, almost as important as birthdays. Those bearing the names of Andrei, Nicolae, Ștefan, Vasile and Ioan are congratulated by family and friends with parties held for the occasion.
Traditional dishes prepared for the winter holidays include different kinds of ciorba (sour soup) for the first course, sarmale (cabbage or vine leaves rolls filled with pork or veal), piftie (meat jelly), fried sausage with pickles for the second course, and as dessert, cozonac (sweet bread with walnuts, cocoa or poppy seeds). They are accompanied by quality wines, perfected over 4000 years of viticulture practiced on these lands. Several extremely valuable native Romanian varieties such as Băbească and Fetească Neagră are made into red wines, and Fetească Regală, Fetească Albă, Francușa, Grasa, Galbena, Busuioacă and Tămâioasă are used for white wines.
Christmas Markets have become a much-anticipated attraction of the season; the most famous ones are in biggest cities: Bucharest, Sibiu, Brașov, Alba Iulia, Cluj- Napoca, Craiova, Constanța, Timișoara – European Capital of Culture 2023, Iași, and Suceava. The visitors can experience traditional Romanian music and gastronomy, specific for this time of the year.
Whether in the bustling cities, the peaceful countryside, at the numerous resorts with facilities for winter sports and wellness with mineral and thermal springs, or in the wonderful landscape of the Carpathian Mountains, a winter holiday in Romania will be delightful and unforgettable.