The day of 24th of December, Christmas Eve, is a feast day for all Romanians. All preparations for Christmas are done. It’s time to celebrate. It’s time for little kids to start their trail from house to house and sing their beautiful Christmas carols and give Christmas cheers. Later in night it’s time for drummers bands to do their show.
At home, in my grandma house, all jobs are done. Except three things. She has to arrange the table and put the cruse with “sarmale” in the oven. And we have to decorate the Christmas tree.
Caroling band, going form house to house
Grandma will stuff the table with all Christmas goodies: many kinds of sausages, melt fat, head cheese, lots of cakes and beverages. The guests that will come will be frozen and hungry. They need to stay and rest. To eat and drink and regain strength to sing again for the neighbour… and the neighbour of the neighbour…
Child receiving knot-shaped bread
First come children. They are pure and innocent so they must open the show. Those under 7-8 years old come in the morning. Teenagers come in the afternoon and evening. They sing carols and wish the people all the best. They enter the house because, according to tradition, they bring fortune and happiness. My grandma gives them knot-shaped bread and cakes; apples, nuts and money.
Then, late in the night, we hear the drums. Wow! Drummers’ band starts its trail. We are waiting for. We stay and listen to those drums. They are beaten all the way. They slow down when the band arrive in front of a house and they sing a carol. We don’t hear drums anymore. They are into that house.
Drums again. They come. They are at our neighbour. Turn off the lights! Turn off the lights! And we’re waiting again. OK! They left the neighbour and are coming to us. They are at our door and sing a carol. What a beautiful Christmas carol. Grandpa asks the children: “Do you like it? Are we inviting them into the house?” “Yes. Yes.” And we turn on the lights.
They come in and sing another carol. Then they sit down at the table and start talking. It’s a lot of noise. Almost everybody says something. It’s time for grandpa to thank and give them presents because they bless our house.
Drummers’ head thank him for gifts in masterly rhymes. Then he “paints” every member of the family in humour colours. There is no way for offence so we laugh a lot. Women and children start to dance with drummers. A lot of joy.
It’s time. They have to go to the next house. Beaten drums are heard again. This time slower and slower as they move away. It’s time for children to go to bed. And grandma tells them a story about Jesus Christ.
A caroling band
The adults? They can also go to sleep. But they think it’s better to go and sing a Christmas carol to relatives’ and friends’ doors. One day a year it’s Christmas Eve, isn’t it? Grandparents stay at home to take care of children and put the presents under the Christmas tree. All the rest go out and sing until in the morning.
One great Christmas Eve again! Every little thing on Christmas Eve prepares your mind and soul for Christmas Day. The day when Jesus Christ was born.