Spring in Romania

Scris de in data de 28 February 2011
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This is basicly a small summary of our traditions in the month of March, intended for my colleagues reading and information :)

Romania is a country of many traditions and we (among other balcanic countries) like to celebrate the beginning of spring in a nice, full of superstition manner.

  • Mărțișor beside the meaning that you can find on wikipedia, has become a part of our life since we were little girls. We, the romanian ladies got used receiving this small gift from the boys that liked us (ok, and from the ones that didn’t, only because the mothers made them give the small red and white strings attached to some  jewellery). Keep in mind that originally Mărţişor is a talismaned to receive  (amulet) made of knitted threads (wool, cotton, or silk), red and white are colors present in our folklore and in Daco-Roman traditions and nowadays it symbolise the beginning of spring and the appreciation between female and male.
  • Baba Dochia has different stories in my mind and the one that I think I remember from my parents is that she was Decebal’s  sister (last Daco ruler, before Dacia was conquered by the Roman Empire) and she was seeking refuge in the mountains and instead of being caught she transformed in 9 pieces of stone. Now, I don’t expect you to believe in some of my ancestor supernatural powers, plus I’m not even sure that this is the story, since wikipedia contradicts me in some essential parts.  But it generated a tradition saying that every woman should pick a day from 1st to 9th March, called “baba” and the weather in that particular day will predict the rolling of the full year. Nice weather means a good change that the year will be fair and happy, bad weather…well you are fucked.
  • 8th March is considered the day of mother, so small gifts for the ladies, again.
  • The ladies have 9 days of celebrating Dochia’s sacrifice, but we didn’t forget about the man also. On 9th March it is the day of the 40 Mucenici (Martyrs of Sevastia). This is a religious celebration that by coincidence is in the same of the beginning of agriculture year in Romania. The woman bake some traditional pastry in the shape of an 8, and the man drink 40 glasses of wine in the salute of the martyrs.    From the religious point of view the meaning is that of remembering the forgotten deaths. The woman cooks 40 small “mucenici”- flour, chinamen, nuts, shaped as 8 s and boiled in sweet water. The water in which the “mucenici” are boiled is hold in a big cup, representing the place where the bodies of the martyrs were thrown away. The woman make a bigger “mucenic” , this time blind, symbolising all the deaths that were forgotten during the year.

It slipped my mind that 1st March will find me in a more un-sunny, hostile environment as Luxembourg. Tomorrow I will go for some red and white strings hunting. I’ve also chosen my “baba” and it will be the day I will fly back to Romania, so this year I will have a very international lady that will decide my future.

P.S A few weeks to late, but we have a sort of Valentine’s Day, 2000 years old, celebrated on 24th February, in the memory of Dochia’s son, Dragobete. So next time when you attend an anti-Valentine’s party keep in mind to do something special for Dragobete.

Later edit: I received a mărțișor that made me really happy, from my bulgarian neighbour.  Thank you Alex!


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