The Romanian name for Christmas Day is “Craciun”. It’s generally a peaceful family day like everywhere in the world. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have specific traditions. Much more then traditional lunch.
Early in the morning little boys come with “The Star”. They announce the star is up and shinning and the blessed baby will come soon.
Then we put our festive clothes on and we go to the church to listen to little Jesus story from the priest’s mouth. We sing lots of Christmas carols together with church’s chorus. The air is full of pace and happiness. On the way back home we are so quiet. Cause our thoughts are far away in time. We are thinking to little Jesus and his wonderful mother.
Grandpa opens the lunch with blessing. He blesses the food and all the family members. And by “all” I mean those alive as well as those gone. Popular belief is that on Christmas Day all our forefathers’ souls come at our table and eat and drink with us. A plate with food and a glass of wine is always waiting for them on our table.
We have a couple of hours to rest. But children don’t have peace. They stay with their little noses glued on the window pane. They know. Those young men called “Irozii” have to arrive. It’s a popular sketch they love so much.
In the evening the entire family gather near the fire. We sing Christmas carols again. We love to allow our grandparents sing old, less popular carols. We sing together so we can learn those beautiful carols.
We learn them and keep them as a treasure for our children and grandchildren.
After the children are asleep the adults start a new carol trail to relatives and friends.
More customs and some superstitions? Of course they are. Not so many as in the other holidays because the Christian side of Romanians put its stamp on this day.
The belief that family ancestors’ spirits rise and stay with us on Christmas Day is still alive among the Romanian villagers, especially the elderly. And they are going to be honoured by sharing food and drink with them.
There is also another belief that sun (it’s time of winter solstice) has to be helped to revive. That’s why people light a big fire in the dawns of the Christmas Day.
There is a custom in the same spirit in Banat. It’s called “wheels of fire”. Young people of village put fire on old broken cart’s wheels in the morning of the Christmas Day. They have to roll those fired wheels down the hill. And they must follow their own wheels and keep rolling them till the base of the hill. It’s a real challenge.