Are you curious to find out what the Romanian Christmas traditions are? There are many articles about this subject online, but this one is extra special because it’s written by a local. As a Romanian citizen, I can share with you what our Christmas traditions are and what do we do around this time. So it’s not all about traditions here 🙂
Before we dive in, you should know that each area of the country has its own Christmas Traditions, but most of these are all around Romania.
The majority of Romanians belong to the Orthodox Religion. This means that 40 days before Christmas the fasting period starts. Not everybody decides to participate in the fasting season. Fasting means no meat, cheese or eggs, especially on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Everything starts with cleaning the entire house. I remember growing up, this use to be huge in my household. From cleaning windows to taking everything out from the cupboards so we can clean, declutter and organize everything.
This tradition probably faded away in some Romanian households as the years went by.
After the fasting period, people like to cook a lot and have lots of food on the table. We have lots of traditional foods that are always on our festive tables especially around Christmas. See the Cuisine section to see the recipes. (coming soon)
Here’s a list with some of our dishes:
- Pork Roast – Friptură de Porc
- Cabbage Rolls – Sarmale
- Homemade Caltaboș and Smoked Sausage
- Boeuf Salad – Salată Boeuf
- Chicken Soup with Pasta – Supă cu Tăieței
- Terrine or Meat Jelly – Piftie de Carne
- Buns with Poppy, Walnuts or Turkish Delights – Cozonac cu Mac, Nuci, Rahat
- Aperitif with all sorts of meats and vegetables – Platou Aperitiv
- Various Homemade Cakes – Prăjituri
In Romania this is known as “tăierea porcului” and it’s a huge tradition especially around the villages of the country. The slaughter of pigs usually takes place, by Ignat, on December 20.
Cutting the pig is considered as a pagan ritual in which spiritual demonism is at its peak. Keeping the Ignatius to our day and cutting the pig before Christmas, even though it has come to be rather a gastronomic tradition, is the living proof of the resistance of pagan holidays in the traditions of the Romanians.
I have to say that not many people from the cities do it, but my family still does it.
Men start the first bit and then women come in to sort the meat and prepare it for other foods such as
- Pork Crackling – Șoric Porc
- Bacon – Slănină
- Sausage – Cârnați
- Pomana Porcului – this is the first meal from the pig – we also call it “taste testing”
See this video here to see the pig cutting process.
It symbolizes infinite life because it’s an evergreen tree. Growing up, my dad used to say that the Angel has to bring us the Christmas Tree. It would put it on our balcony and we decorated it on Christmas Eve or 1-2 days before that. Of course, this was the story before I knew the truth about Santa Claus.
After I moved to my own house the Christmas tree decorating moved all the way to the beginning of December. Since Christmas is my favorite holiday I want to enjoy all the decorations, that’s why I changed things up a little bit.
In Transylvania (not only), this is one of the best and most popular Christmas Traditions. From children to adults, everybody goes caroling from home to home or around the neighborhood. This happens on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December. But some people go even on the 25th and 26th of December. I remember growing up, I’d be out all night caroling to family and friends with my group of friends.
Back in the day carolers used to receive apples, coils, and walnuts, but over the years this quickly changed. The adults now receive food and alcohol (țuică) and children get money.
In the big cities, we only go to friends and family, but in the villages, people and children go caroling from house to house dressed up in the Romanian Traditional Clothes.
See this video to see how children go caroling around the villages.
Street carolers are present in the big cities, where they go around the city with instruments and costumes. The only downside to this bit is that they do it mostly for money and the locals don’t like them at all.
Back in the day, gifts were offered just between family members, but over the years people started offering gifts to friends or co-workers too.
When it comes to children, they know that on Christmas Eve they receive gifts from Santa Claus (Moș Crăciun).