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Jan.
10
2009

Christmas habits- Caroling

Posted by: Bota Emilia

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Romanians today celebrate Christmas on the 25 th of December. It has the richest and most complex ritual structure, attracting people of almost any age, sex and social standing. Traditionally, within a 24-hour interval (Dec.24-25) children and adults go carolling, bearing the star, or Morning Star, and representing the popular drama of Jesus' Birth (Vicleim), of The Three Wise Men (Irozii). The whole community takes part in the celebrations. In our opinion, carolling is the most important and, at the same time, the oldest and best structured ritual. From the Latin term calendae, we have colinda and calendar in Romanian. The Latin calendae or kalendae derives from the verb calo-are, meaning "to call".This is the initial significance preserved in traditional Romanian form: colind, colindat (carol, carolling), i.e. calling, announcement. In our case, it is the announcement, the heralding of Jesus' Birth, the beginning of redemption. The implication of greeting, steadily underscored by folklorists and ethnologists - as an expression of joy for the fulfillment of the messianic prophesies - has become a dominant feature in the past hundred years only, especially in the last fifty years. The practice of carolling with the Romanians should strictly be delimited from the noisy and dramatic revelry of the Roman festival of the calendae.
The echoes of the first carols can be heard as early as from the night of December 23 to 24.In villages, the customs of this time of the year are best preserved. One of the most popular customs among the Romanians is going to sing carols, which represents a ritual consisting from ceremonial texts, dances and gestures. Thus, on the eve of Christmas, groups of carol singers, wearing traditional costumes, comes to sing wishes to households, wishing them health, happiness, prosperity, accomplishment of their desires in the new year.The carol singers are awaited for by households with houses crystal clean and nicely decorated and they are rewarded by them with pretzels, fruits, nuts or even money. The adult ones are invited to have a glass of hot tzuika, hot wine or Christmas cake. The tradition says that one should not reject those singing carols, because you reject blessing and you will have a bad year. The hosts come to the door and invite the little ones into the house, serving them with the traditional pretzels, with nuts and apples, with cakes that are home made and with fresh donuts. The tradition says that those who are the first to enter the host's household are the boys, as they bring prosperity to that household. In some areas, this tradition is known as "Colindeata", it takes place on the night of December 23 and the groups of children awake the masters of the household, saying "Buna dimineata, da-ne colindeata!". This "colindeata" is the gift of adults to the children and it is meant to bring to the one giving it much accomplishment and gains.In some places, one can seeĀ  a Christmas tradition, in the Christmas evening, the religious singing known as Viclaim or Irozii, which depicts the Birth of the Lord in all its stages.This is the night when one believes that the animals speak in human voices, but children only can understand them, because the adults have lost this gift.Starting with the Christmas and until the Epiphany, the children go caroling with Steaua, announcing the Birth of the Holly Child. They make a star, usually from cardboard, which they decorate nicely, they place an icon on the front face, depicting scenes of the Birth of the Lord or the image of Virgin Maria and the Baby, and they place tassels into the corners. This is a hint to the start that guided the three wise men coming from the East.

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