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Romanian Carols ("colinde")are a source of rich lyrical tradition and customs sk

illfully preserved through time. Although no longer common in the large cities,
they still can be discovered in most of the countryside.
Caroling usually beggins on Christmas Eve, during the first hours after dark. So
me the carolers are children, going from house to house and receiving, in exchan
ge for their performance, several treats, like candy, fruit or traditional baked
products, collected in a traditional handbag, called "straita". The others, you
ng adults, (flacai_ are organised in groups, lead by the one considered to most
important representative of their village (vataf/jude). There are simple carols,
sang as such, or more complex ones, which include ample preparations of large g
roup who put together a complex performance.
One of the most popular of them is the Star Carol ("steaua"), sang my carolers w
hich keep in their hands by a handmade star figure, made of colored paper,decora
ted with tinsel, silver foil or bells, having in the middle of it a picture of b
aby Jesus. This song alludes to a Biblical story, that of the Christmas Star whi
ch revealed to the three Magi the place where Jesus was born.
The Goat/Bear tradition
Having pagan origins, inspired by the celebration of the ancient Geto-Dacic gods
, the Goat/Bear tradition can be encountered all over the country, varying in oc
curence from Christmas Eve to New Year's day.
The Goat is usually a young persion, wearing a very colourful suit,adorned with
beads, tassels and ribbons, and its movements are erratic: accompanied by the lo
ud music of fiddlers it jumps, jerks, beds, while clattering its wooden jaws, fr
ightening and impressing its audience .
The Bear's tradition involves a customary songs, meant to symbolise death and re
vival of nature, throughout a succession of season, all envisioned by the moveme
nts of the Bear- he dances, he dies, he is ressurected and climbs a wooden stick
, announcing the end of the winter and the spring that is yet to coe.
As opposed to the Goat, the Bear suit is usally made from real fur of a bear or
other animals, arranged to ressemble it, adorned with red tassels and there is m
ore than one person dressed up as such.
A similar carol is that of the Masked People (Mascatii). Wearing frightening, hi
deous masks, and carrying large bells, they dance and sing, making a lot of nois
e, in an attempt to scare the old year and prepare the ground for the new one to
come. This tradition is among the oldest, with masks created by traditional cra
ftsmen for hundreds of years.
Traditional greeting for the New Year, The Little Plough (Plugusorul) is a carol
which preserves the appearance of an agricultural magical ritual, wishing for a
bountiful crops, through the voices of the carolers which recite the text of th
e poem, accompanying it by shouts, whip cracks and bell sounds.
Another traditional greeting for the New Year is "sorcova". It is usually the ch
ildren who practice this custom. They take a budding branch from a young tree (u
sually a plum, a cherry or a pear tree), cover it with colourful paper flowers,
giving it the appearance of a magical wand and use it to lightly touch the perso
n to whom the greeting is addressed, while reciting an optimistic, lively poem,
meant to bring him/her youth,health and prosperity.