In America, we are familiar with carolers going from home to home, stereotypically amongst falling snow, carrying candles with wisps of their breathe casting a smoke of fog as they exhale harmony. I have learned, recently, that Romania has similar traditions to caroling, but there are some, like American’s, who may see these traditions as extremely foreign.
Most of their traditional caroling is not only different but spans from mid-December to January 1st. Like caroling, the customs appear to invite comrades to gather together for some good fun. It is different though in the way they are dressed up and dance in that they are combining similarities such as donning costumes with Halloween mixed with a small musical production.
I shall, with modern media’s help, give some examples. In the first link, you will recognize this caroling, with instruments that more conforms to what an American would think traditional caroling would be. The invitation into the home however may be someone atypical of what an American would come to expect.
Moving to another example, you will see something that looks almost like a Native American dance. This dance loosely tells a story of a horse and pig. As the dancing continues, toward the end, the onlookers are invited into the dance. More of the Roma (gypsies) are taking over some of these dances lately in an attempt to get easy money from the crowd, usually in the Southern part of Romania.
Wishing for a good crop on December 31st is also a winter tradition done to a song or chant. This link shows the images of the chilly crop well-wishers along with their bell ringing and colorful air instrument blowing. On January 1st, it is also the tradition that children go from house to house singing Sorcova and spreading grain around the house for luck. Check out this cute one as he sings the Sorcova song. A translation can be found here.
Last, I’d like to leave you with my favorite clip. It is my favorite, because I imagine if an American saw this dance in their front yard, expecting carolers, that they would immediately call 911. This is only a goat dance, however, and nothing to be concerned about. They do go from house to house with this mini story/dance and the people come to expect it. I feel I must remark too how much organization, effort with the costumes, and the need to continue tradition I view with awe and respect.
Looking into others cultures on the holidays is fun and perhaps can spawn a new tradition in your family or community. I am very curious and welcome any comments from my readers on their caroling fun or interesting stories.
A major contributor to this story, especially for accuracy must go to my wife, Elena, who is originally from Romania.
Author: Julian Andrei Title: Taina Craciun 2008 Website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5fPO1-ZFm4
Author: Marian (last name unknown; username is Marian91rap) Title: Obiceiuri de iarna in holboca (Dancu) Website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBO83Nwd2Zc
Author: Mari Ma Title: PLUGUSORUL Website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-l4a8ngtmk
Author: (Name unknown; username: marius71a) Title: Sorcova vesela – Diana Website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM-29SzJGo4
Author: Author unknown Title: Sorcova Website: http://www.roembus.org/english/communities/copii/sorcova.htm
Author: Vasile Lungu Title: Capra din BROSTENI Website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE98UfCSEr0