Romania marks National Culture Day, celebrates great poet Mihai Eminescu

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Romania is marking National Culture Day on January 15, and also celebrates great national poet Mihai Eminescu’s birthday. There are 171 years since the birth of the great Romanian poet.

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.

The National Culture Day, inspired by the anniversary of Eminescu, has been celebrated in Romania for the first time on January 15, 2011, after in 2010 the Parliament had adopted a draft law, initiated by 50 MPs, through which Mihai Eminescu’s date of birth became the National Culture Day.

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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