The tradition of Christmas carolling has been kept in Romania, where those who travel to the country’s villages get to see the ‘real’ carolling- and we’ll cover that later on. But there are ways to discover traditional Romanian carolling for those who stay in Bucharest too. Starting the first week of December, with a peak before Christmas, and in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, groups of carollers will start touring the neighbourhoods of Bucharest.
The Calusarii dance is a healing and protection ritual – in the countryside they would dance in people’s yards or on the street. The custom is still kept in more traditional Romanian villages, especially in the south of Romania.
There will also be groups of masked people in your neighborhood, and there will also be groups of kids singing a carol or two in front of your door. In the latter case, it is customary to give them some money (RON 1, 5 or 10 for each child, depending on how much you want to spend). You can also give them fruits and cookies, but most of the kids do this to raise money for Christmas presents nowadays, so they will be happier with money.
Examples of colinde with religious subject are “Astăzi s-a născut Hristos” (Today Christ Was Born), “O, ce veste minunată!” (Oh, What Wonderful News!), “Trei păstori” (Three Shepherds), “Trei crai de la rărărit“, “Steaua” (The Star) or “Sus la poarta Raiului” (Up at Heaven’s Gate). The first two ones talk about the Nativity of Jesus. The first one indicates people to pray for Jesus and thank him for being born while the other one informs us how Christ was born and praises Mary. The other ones tell the stories of the Three shepherds, Three Magi and of the Christmas star. The latter one, “Sus la poarta Raiului” is a portrait of the Manger during Jesus’ nativity.
Many folklore musicians covered, re-mastered or did renditions to those songs, some of them being well-known artists such as Maria Tănase. Beyond traditional music, mainstream artists have also involved themselves in Christmas culture. One example is Madrigal choir who covered over 20 carols. Ştefan Hruşcă is another Christmas music alumni who kicks off Christmas nationwide tours in late November yearly. He had also covered hundreds of songs and put them on at least three Christmas albums. Rock & Roll singer-songwriter and actor Ştefan Bănică, Jr. has a now-traditional concert series to honor Christmas, ever since 2002. They are called Împreună de Crăciun / Concert extraordinar de Craciun and take place at Sala Palatului in Bucharest. He also released a Christmas album including top ten smash hit “Doar o dată e Crăciunul” (Christmas Is Only Once)
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!