By Cristina Ciobanu
Cinnamon, freshly baked ginger bread, mulled wine? Yes, Christmas is finally here. I already put up my Christmas decorations at the beginning of December, which might seem a bit early for you, but I love to get into the holiday mood from the first day of December.
Now, the most cherished holiday of the year is upon us; one in which the family gathers around the fireplace, drinking mulled wine or hot chocolate and waiting for Santa to come. When I was younger, I used to start writing my letter to Santa during the summer so I was sure to have enough time to make it perfect by October or November and send it to him. That’s one thing children in Moldova do for Christmas and I’m going to talk about some Moldovan Christmas traditions.
Moldova is a country situated in Eastern Europe, with a rich set of traditions and national customs. Some of the holidays celebrated in Moldova are the same as in Romania, including Christian and non-Christian holidays. However, since Moldova is mainly a Christian-Orthodox country, it also has some holidays which can be found in Russia and Ukraine. The culture carefully preserves the memory of ancestral people. Among all of the religious holidays, Christmas and Easter are the favourite ones.
More and more people every year celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, whereas there are still segments of the population who celebrate it on the 7th of January, as the Orthodox Church and other Orthodox countries do such as Serbia, Russia or Ukraine. The Orthodox Christmas celebration starts six weeks earlier when the fast prior to the holiday starts; the orthodox fasting pattern excludes any animal products from the diet. Not everybody is doing it, but the very religious people are. Before Christmas and the arrival of Santa, all the kids are waiting for St. Nicholas, who comes on the night of the 6th of December. That night, kids have to polish their shoes and place them in front of the window or the door, and St. Nicholas comes and puts the small gifts into the shoes.
The decorated Christmas tree, traditional foods and carols are among the traditions. The main cooking activities begin two days before Christmas; girls along with their mothers spend all day in the kitchen preparing traditional food. After this one may detect the magic aroma of a freshly baked walnut cake. Boys and men are going to every house and sing carols the night before Christmas Eve. In Moldova, Christmas and New Years are two holidays linked to each other, elements of the Christian faith are combined with hopes for a better new year. During that magical night, after the familial and friendly dinner, children are excited by the presents that Santa will leave under the Christmas tree. Most of them refuse to go to bed in their rooms and fall asleep on the sofa hoping that they will hear when Santa is coming through the chimney.
I love Christmas time and everything related to it. Some of the movies that I would recommend for everybody to watch during this magical “warm” month would be: Bad Santa (2003), the complete collection of Home Alone (1990), New Year’s Eve (2011). For music lovers here are some of the songs that every year should be in a Christmas-new year’s playlist: All I want for Christmas is you, last Christmas, Jingle Bells, Happy New Year, Silent Night, Mistletoe… <3