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Romanian New Year Traditions

Romanian New Year traditions are some of the finest displays of customs and traditions. If you spend your holidays relaxing in the countryside, in one of the many villages where everybody helps with the preparations and festivities you will definitely be able to join the fun.  These celebrations are diverse, colorful and rich in symbols and meanings bringing a glimpse into the pre-Christian rituals and the predominant agrarian lifestyle from the past.

WHAT ARE THE ROMANIAN NEW YEAR TRADITIONS?  

The celebrations start in the morning of the New Year’s Eve when small groups of children go from house to house performing “Plugusorul” (the little plow). Equipped with bells and even whips, the children sing or recite traditional lyrics wishing the hosts health and rich crops for the year to come.

Later in the day, groups of teenagers or adults, dressed in traditional clothes and playing musical instruments such as drums, violins or guitars, perform “Plugul” (the big plow). In the past they even pulled along a real plow with horses or bulls. 

From all the festivities, the most exciting and colorful Romanian New Year traditions are the mask-dances when people dress up as bears, horses, goats  or other fictional character like the devil. It is a magical ceremony of death and rebirth, of endings and new beginnings. The bear costume traditionally includes a real bear skin carried on the shoulders of the dancer. For the goats, the masks are usually made out of carved wood and real goat horns, while wool and colorful woven carpets or blankets are used to finish of the costume.

The dancers are accompanied by drummers that dictate the rhythm of these spectacular performances and people cracking up long leather whips and shaking cow bells. 

Whether you will decide to join the dance or just admire the skills and the amazing costumes of the dancers, if you hear the drums, just get outside and be a part of this wonderful tradition.  You will not regret it!

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