Romania celebrates National Culture Day on January 15, on Mihai Eminescu’s birthday

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Romania is celebrating its National Culture Day on January 15, a date set to honour national poet Mihai Eminescu, who was born on January 15, 1850.

The National Culture Day has been marked in Romania since 2011 after in November 2010 the Chamber of Deputies adopted a draft law by which Mihai Eminescu’s birthday became the National Culture Day.

Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889) is considered the most famous and influential Romanian poet, as well as the last major representative of European Romanticism, and a promoter of enlightened nationalism. “Being very Romanian, Eminescu is universal”, said Tudor Arghezi, another famous poet and writer, about Eminescu.

Greatly influenced by the literature of Western European authors and the philosophical doctrines of German academics such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Mihai Eminescu (born Mihai Eminovici in a family with 11 children in the village of Ipotesti, Botosani county, northeastern Romania) is considered the national poet of both Romania and its neighbor Republic of Moldova. His romantic inspirations led to poetry which reinterpreted traditional narratives of the mythological, fabled and metaphysical. Often credited with igniting a complete revolution of Romanian verse, Eminescu’s poetry debut came in 1866 when he was just 16 years old.

His poems span a large range of themes, from nature and love to hate and social commentary. His childhood years were evoked in his later poetry with deep nostalgia. After completing his education abroad, Eminescu worked as a university librarian, newspaper editor and journalist although he continued to write and publish poetry.

Eminescu’s poems have been translated in over 60 languages. His life, work and poetry strongly influenced the Romanian culture, wit his poems being widely studied in Romanian public schools.

Eminescu’s masterpiece ‘Luceafărul’ (‘Evening Star’ or ‘The Vesper’), a narrative poem, was published in 1883. It is an epic love poem engaging the beauty of the natural world and interrogating the psyche of man.  It is considered his masterpiece, and of the Romanian literature in general, as well as one of the last milestones in Europe’s Romantic poetry. Mihai Eminescu spent ten years to write it.

‘Luceafarul‘ begins as a typical “one upon a time” fairy tale, with the heroine Cătălina, daughter of a royal couple, shown waiting impatiently for nightfall, when she gazes upon the Vesper, but the story will actually evolve as a self-reflection on the poet’s condition as a genius, and an illustration of his philosophy of love.

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