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

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