Traditions and Customs in Romania

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Romania is situated in the southeast of Europe, to the north of the Balkan Mountains. It has a population of about 23 million inhabitants. Most of its people are of Roman origin-in fact, “Romania” means “land of the Romans”. But there are also Hungarians, Germans, Serbs, Tartars, and Russians who make up the rest of the population. The official language is Romanian, the only language of Latin origin in Eastern Europe. Brought up to respect religious traditions, the majority of Romanians is Orthodox (nearly 87 percent). Protestants are the next largest denomination at 6.8 percent with Catholics making up 5.6 percent of the population. A small number of Muslims also live in Romania. Romanian Orthodox Church, in common with all Eastern churches, gives a central place to icons, or holy images. A believer in a church goes up to the iconostasis-the wall of paintings that separates the sanctuary from the nave-and kisses the icons, making the sign of the cross with three fingers. cons have a curious archaic strangeness that often makes them appear mysterious even to the nonbeliever. As a form of art, icons have no concept of authorship, in the Orthodox Church, an icon is traditionally regarded as a kind of window between the earthly and the celestial worlds. The image recorded in the icon is a sacred one because of the belief that the true features of the heavenly spirit have somehow been imprinted in a two -dimensional way on the icon. Romanian traditions, art and architecture are outstanding in Europe by their great originality and duration through centuries. The various customs and traditions emphasize the regional ethnographic specificites: mask games in Moldavia, handicrafts and folk dances in Oltenia, costumes worn on celebration days in Transylvania, woodworking art and culture in Maramures, pastoral civilization in the Apuseni Mountains. Their common artistic and human sensitiveness ensure the unity of these various artistic expressions. A warm people, truly Latin, the Romanians eagerly give full expression to their natural liveliness and imagination, on the occasion of folk celebrations. The verse of folk songs, ever so often improvised, confirms the innate creative qualities of the Romanians. Folk music is the strongest and richest form of music in the country and is among the most enduring and fruitful tradition of folk music in Europe. A diversity of styles that stretch back centuries have been passed down and improvised from one generation to the next. Only in the last 30 years or so a sustained effort has been made to record this rich heritage.Folk music is still part of the living culture of the people and is enjoyed at weddings, funerals, and various festivities where dance and music are customary. Different regions of the country evolved their own special forms, for example, “doina” music is associated with Maramures in the Northwest of the country. Doina music has been compared with American blues because of its soulful and melancholy rhyms. In the more mountainous parts of the country, the music tends to relate to the working lives of the shepherds, and folk instruments such as panpipes and the “buchium”, a long wooden wind instrument which sound is similar to that of the horn, are used. Other key instruments are “cobza” and “tambal”. The cobza is a stringed instrument similar to a lute, while the tambal resembles a cross between a guitar and xylophone. In Romania folk dances fall into one of two broad categories: ritual and entertainment. Ritualized dances are usually performed during religious ceremonies or special cultural occasions such as harvest celebrations. A favorite dance, for example, is “hora”, where the performers hold hands and form a circle around the band of musicians. The traditional costume is a hand made costume, worn with pride on important celebration days. Basic to a woman’s costume is the simple white blouse embroidered wit colorful ornamentation in bright red,...
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