At the end of the 8th century, the papers of the time mention Romanians at north of the Danube, a new (Latin) people resulted from the cohabitation of Dacians and Romans. The geographic space it occupies is limited by the Danube, the Black Sea and the Carpathians, being situated inside the Carpathian arch. This placement isolated them from the Latin people from Western Europe. In the Middle Ages four states were built: Wallachia, Moldavia, Transylvania (dependent on Hungary) and Dobrogea. The beginnings of Wallachia and Moldavia are tied to two legendary voivodes, Negru Voda and Dragos, who crossed the mountains and established a new country.
The independence was won by Basarab I and Bogdan I, who established the Basarabian and Musatin dynasties. The Romanian history in that time was dominated by fights for freedom and union. A moment of reference is represented by the reign of Mihai Viteazu, who in 1600 unites the two countries.
In the modern era the state disintegration of the Romanians gradually came to an end, by uniting Moldavia with Wallachia on the 24th of January 1859, winning the independence and establishing the Great Romania on the 1st of December 1918. These historical moments when the national union was achieved, represent the greatest celebrations of Romanians and the 1st of December was declared Romania’s National Day. The Romanians’ positioning at the border between the East and West of Europe lead to acquiring two significant influences, the Western influences, mediated by Germans, Polish and Hungarians in particular, and the Byzantine influences mediated by Southern Slavs, who lead to the use of Slavonic language and scripture in the church and official scripts.
In religious life, the basic terms are, however, Latin, and only the words concerning religious organization are Slavic.
The most important celebrations and customs are the work of peasants, as one can still see the most beautiful traditions in the rural world today. The old legends and customs have their beginnings some in the times of Geto-Dacians, other from Romans and many of them are Christian traditions. Their interpretation shows a mixture between the religious celebrations and the agricultural customs.
The most important festive days are the same with those of the rest of the Christian world: Christmas (Birth of Christ), which is always celebrated on the 25th of December, and Easter, which is celebrated according to tradition after the 25th of March – Lady Day. Christmas is accompanied by decorating the fir tree and carols that can only be sung in December and until the Twelfth Day, when there is a habit to throw the cross in the waters of Dambovita and the Danube. The carol singers would receive, according to the old tradition, apples, walnuts and ring biscuits.
New Year’s Eve is also a special moment when “the skies open” and the customs of the “plugusor”, “sorcova” and “turcai” are intended to bring luck and health. Specific for Romanians is the dance of the “Calusari”, which is more often found in the South and East of the country, a dance performed by a group of 7,9 or 11 young men lead by a bailiff. They dance during the week of the Pentecost, with a white flag and a wooden sword kept by the bailiff and with canes, from home to home and utter best wishes.
Found on Romanian territory and in part on Bulgarian territory is the custom of the “martisor”. “Martisor” is a Romanian tradition and it used to mean that on the 1st of March, the parents would offer their children a gold or silver “martisor” with red and white, twined string, which had to be worn at the neck or on the wrist, for 12 days. The customs are honored and lived in urban areas as well, but less profoundly. Here the familial celebrations of births, Christian baptism and marriage are stronger. The gifts have a symbolic role, they are good wishes of success and health. Preserving the identity is also highlighted by keeping the traditional/folk garments.
Modern times minimize the power of Romanian celebrations and traditions. We, however, must know them and respect them.