Sanzienele, the Romanian Midsummer Day: Customs and events


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„Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum in Bucharest will host a traditional fair, concerts and workshops to mark Sanzienele, the Romanian Midsummer Day this weekend, June 23-24. The event, entitled „At the Sun’s gate. Sanzielele”, will display all the time renewal customs celebrate din Romania on Midsummer day. The Church Choir from Ermioni and the City Hall Choir from Trikala, Greece, are guests of honour.

The event also includes a fair of the handicrafts men selling traditional items and foodstuff, folk music and dance performances, but also workshops where everyone could make her/his own bedstraw wreaths.

To celebrate Midsummer Day, a guided tour will be available at the Village Museum on Sunday, at 11:00hr about the importance and properties of the herbal therapy. On the same day (at 14:30), the museum will host a performance aimed to recast the atmosphere of the Midsummer Day celebration, according to the local ancient tradition.

The International Ia Day celebrated in Tei Lake Park

The President  event center inside the Tei Lake Park in Bucharest invites visitors to celebrate the The Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse (Ziua Iei) on Sunday, starting 10 a.m. until midnight (145 Lacul Tei Boulevard, district 2, Bucharest, inside the park, at the lakeside).

Guests are invited to wear traditional Romanian clothes, the renowned ‚Ia’, the Romanian blouse that got famous worldwide as a symbol of the Romanian culture. More details and reservations at

Sanziene Fair at Merlock, the Artist Garden

The magical night of Sanziene will be also marked in the Merlock Garden, 37 C.A. Rosetti street in Bucharest this weekend (June 23-24). The fair gets together over 50 craftsmen and artists bringing crafts workshops for adults and the little ones, handmade items such as clothes, jewelry and accessories.

Brasov highlight

If you happen to be in Brasov this weekend, you should not miss The Sanziana Fair held at the Reduta Cultural Center (2 Appolonia Hirscher street). An exhibition to celebrate the famous „Sanziene”, the Romanian fairies who have magical powers and also the Romanian Blouse/Ia and a fair of handmade stuff will welcome visitors. More details at

The magical and healing power of summer

The Midsummer Day (Sanzienele) is held on June 24, being a pagan tradition that celebrates the sun, nature and fertility/love and is related to the flower called sanziana/The Lady’s bedstraw, a wild yellow flower used in ancient healing potions. According to the popular belief, on this day, the summer goes  into ground and offers gives miraculous powers to the medicinal herbs.

However, the Midsummer celebrations in Romania evolve around the Summer Fairies, called Sanziene in Romanian, hence the Romanian name for Midsummer: “Sanziene”or “Dragaica”.

The Roman name, ‘Sanziana’, coming from ‘Sancta Diana’ is still used in Transylvania and the Slavonic one, ‘Dragaica’, is still used in Walachia and Oltenia.

The legend says that Sanzienele are amazingly beautiful girls, fairies, who live in forests or in the fields. They are said to be part of the Iele family, gracious fairies with magical powers. Unlike the most of Iele, who can be mean and evil, Sanzienele are always good and kind to humans.

They start a round dance called ‘hora’ while bringing flowers and weeds to life, turning them into miraculous medicinal plants, good for healing all diseases. This happens on the night before June 24, when they are flying over meadows, smelling and touching the wildflowers, enriching them with special healing properties.

The dance is performed by a group of 5-7 young girls, with a chosen one called Dragaica. She is dressed as a bride, wearing a wheat wreath on her forehead, while the other girls are dressed in white.

According to ancestral tradition, on Sanziene’s Eve, it is said that the fairies bless the animals and the fountains, strengthen the marriages, heal people of different diseases and then like to dance and sing until dawn.

On the eve of June 23, girls used to pick yellowweed flowers on the fields and made wreaths that they threw over the roofs. At night, the girls who want to get married join the young men who want to wed.

Older people are also throwing garlands over the roof to find out when they’ll die. There’s the belief that when the garland will fall from the roof, death is near.

Another folk belief is that during the Sanziene’s Eve night, the heavens open up, making it the strongest night for magic spells, especially for the love spells. Also it is said that the plants harvested during this night will have tremendous magical powers. Hence, the celebration is linked to paranormal events reported during this time of the year. According to popular beliefs, strange things, both positive and negative, may happen to a person wandering alone on Sanziene night.

Feast of Midsummer Day used to be a true ceremonial in the countryside in old times. After dark, men and boys used to go on the hills carrying torches that they spin around making them burn and spark intensely. After midnight, when torches are almost burnt out, they would go down the hills, where girls and women joined them. They build a bonfire and jump over it for good luck.

According to the peasant tradition, this day is very important for weather forecast. There is a popular belief that if it rains after Midsummer, the next 40 days will be rainy. Some say on this very night, as on Christmas night, animals can talk or if clothing, carpets and bedding are exposed to the sun on June 24, they will not be eaten by moths. They also say if you pick and eat at a wheat flower petals, called Blue (Albastrica) at midnight, you’ll have good luck all year long.

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