WHEN people talk about spending New Year’s Eve, you’ll probably only hear about parties or family reunions. That’s not the case in Romania. Even if there are parties held and your family members might visit you, there are numerous things which you won’t find in any other countries. Romania abounds in traditions, that’s why New Year’s Eve is marked by numerous activities and ritualistic dances, usually inspired from folklore, from peasants’ daily activities and their purpose is to drive away the evil and to welcome the New Year purified.
The Caiuţi, originating from the Romanian word for horse, cal, is a male group who practice a dance imitating the galloping of a horse. Their clothes are traditional, mainly white or neutral colors, their clothing including also an improvisation made from wood, metal mesh,a tail made from horse hair and a large colorful sheet over it, meant to represent a horse. This play also includes other characters such as people dressed in military uniform and masked or face-painted people.
Capra, the goat, is another ritual, the people playing it being costumed with colorful carpets to look like a goat and its purpose is to protect the animals in a household from diseases. Ursul, the bear, involves men dressed in bear’s furs dancing to drive away the harsh conditions of winter. Both these plays include scenarios about the animals getting sick and then being cured by certain words called good wishes (“urături”) accompanied by traditional music.
There are also activities practiced by children.They go from door to door saying Pluguşorul, in translation, the plough. It’s a poem, which kids say to people who have opened the door, in which they wish health,well-being and luck while they are dangling a bell. The hosts often thank them by giving them bagels, candies and money.
All these activities and many more, depending on the region of Romania, are being held on the 31st December until midnight and sometimes even with some days earlier. It is fun to see with your own eyes all these traditions very important to Romanians, which take place in every village, town or city, all around the country.