A series about how children in other countries celebrate Christmas.
In Romania, the winter holiday season—including Christmas, New Year, and Epiphany—is in full swing from 24 December to 7 January. Each of these celebrations is unique in its display of colorful customs, traditions, and artistic and musical events, making the winter holidays spectacular for Romanians.
“Christmas has always been a special moment for all children. I love every aspect of it—the traditions, carols, and mostly the sweets,” says 10-year-old George from Vladeni commune.
Red, black, and white are the traditional colors of the Christian Romanian folk costume. Red represents the finery of the children who go caroling through the streets; black symbolizes the winter night that falls early in December; and white signifies the snow that blankets the country, sparkling under the stars as far as the eye can see.
To prepare for Christmas, families cook food and clean their homes to entertain guests and carolers. “My mother is so busy before Christmas day, so I always try to help her with the cooking,” says 9-year-old Andrea from Vladeni commune. “I love Christmas because it brings the whole family together. I also love going to church, especially the feeling I have while listening to the priest and seeing how quiet and peaceful everyone is,” adds the little girl.
One of the most anticipated customs of the holiday season is Christmas caroling. Children go caroling when the clock strikes midnight and it becomes Christmas Eve. As they go from one house to another, the children receive sweets, fruit, and even money. “All the children love to go caroling. It is a time when we can have fun together practicing our songs and playing in the snow. We sing to make people happy on Christmas and to remind people that, on this special day, Jesus was born,” says 8-year-old Catalin.
On Christmas day, children walk in the streets of snow-covered towns and villages, holding stars made of cardboard and paper that are decorated with watercolor paintings of biblical scenes or an icon of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. While they walk, the children sing:
Do you receive the pretty star,
Pretty and so bright?
It has appeared on the earth
Just like God through it would be right
And it could be seen on high,
Just like we did, in the sky.
Romanian children also write letters to Santa Claus. At an event arranged by World Vision for children to meet Santa at a bookstore in Cluj, the boys and girls shared their letters. Reads one: “Dear Santa, I want you to have a gift from me: I wish you all the happiness in the world! –Grete.”
—Reporting by Mirela Slusaru and Laura Runcanu
Related post: Christmas in … Cambodia (Dec. 17, 2009)