Dobrogea, ancestral Christmas customs and traditions

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Unusual, old and authentic customs, some of them borrowed from overseas, dress up Romania in winter holiday clothes.

Winter Holidays start with Christmas Eve (December 24th) and go on until The Feast of Saint John the Baptist (January 7th).

In Dobrogea, winter customs were brought from all over the country by Romanians who settled here for more than centuries ago.

The most common carols In Constanta and Tulcea are the ones that announce the birth of Jesus, such as, ‘Craii’, ‘Capra’ and ‘Mosoaiele’.

Groups of children go from house to house, and at the same time, groups of youngsters or men join them and wish health and richness while the hosts welcome them in their houses and give them drinks and food (sometimes money).

The carol singers wish healthiness, abundance, happiness and peace in the family.

‘Christmas Carol’ – on Christmas Eve, children go caroling from house to house from dusk till dawn.

‘The Bear’, ‘The Weathercock’ and ‘The Goat’ are traditions with masks, practiced on Christmas Eve, still practiced in Niculitel, Valea Teilor, Greci and Enisala.

‘Mosoii’ are actually people dressed up in sheepskin costumes turned inside out, with fox or rabbit fur, with masks made from ram’s horns, rabbit moustache, colored ribbons, immortal flowers and multicolored beads. The role of ‘Mosoiu’ dance is to protect Christmas against the evil spirits.

‘Oleleul’ is a tradition specific to north Dobrogea and practiced on Christmas Eve by groups of young men who bang the bells to the ground and sit in circles in front of the house protecting the host from evil spirits. They still do it in Macin.

‘Sowing’ ( Semanatul) is a custom practiced on New Year’s by children who go from house to house throwing grains of wheat and wishing auspicious words for the year to come.

On January 6, ‘The Epiphany Day’, young men turn into real men by recovering the cross thrown into the water.

These are just a few common Christmas practices in Romania, but the real performance takes place in the countryside, where each region features its own parade of tradition, old customs and festivals – a truly authentic experience that you’ll never forget.

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