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Traditions in Moldova

Moldova (the Republic of) is a European Country with a complex and rich history of
ethnic traditions and popular customs. The largest part of the population is
represented by Moldovans (moldoveni, speakers of a dialect of the Romanian
language and conscious of their common origins with their confrairs situated on the
Western bank of Prut in Romania, with whom they a share a long and the same
history and culture). It also has a variety of customs, traditions and holidays. Some
of the holidays are celebrated throughout the country; others are designated for
specific regions of even specific localitites (villages or cities). Situated in the
southeastern part of European continent, the native population in Moldova trace its
origins to the Thracian Dacian period.

The Moldovan/Romanian traditions have retained myths and rites from that age,
thus drawing Romania close to the cradle of the European culture. In particular, the
Romanian culture largely resembles that of eastern Mediterranean regions.The
Romanian holidays have preserved the foundations of family structure and
organizations, as well as the patterns defining social groups. The holidays reflect
rules of behavior that originated in the Roman and Byzantine civilization.

The Moldovan folklore developed within the borders of the two great regions of
European civilization--the west and the southeast. Over the centuries, the Moldovan
people crystallized their own popular culture. This culture expresses the need for
communication between man and nature, between man and man, and among
different human groups. The customs have also been an instrument in the exchange
of goods, services and information. Matrimonial ceremonies exemplify the customs
in a specific way.

The Romanian practice of faith and spirituality have been in synchrony and in
harmony with aspects of popular trades and facets of regional geography.
Therefore, Moldovan holidays, while diversified by regional traditions, have common
threads running through them. The same unity can be found in the traditions and
customs throughout the country. They include Christian and non-Christian holidays,
which can ba traced back to a pre-Christian period of history. Since Moldovan is
mainly and Eastern Orthodox country, this form of Christianity permeates the spirit
of the holidays, with other themes such as the seasons or common trades being
blended within religious themes.

Two main groups of people appear in the expression of popular customs: those
who are living and the ancestors who receded them. Moldova culture carefully
preserves the memory of ancestral peoples. The focus of the popular spirituality is
found in each village. The trades of the villages were mainly agricultural. Moldovans
traditionally were farmers who worked the land, kept vineyards, raised cattle or
lived as shepherds.

Spring and summer were known as the time to work the land. Autumn represented
the harvest and winter was dedicated to the formation of artistic creativity or
spiritual growth. Delicate, graceful and sober--the popular art of Moldova was
preserved by the village. Village leaders assumed the tasks of guarding the
originality, individuality and permanency of artisans' work. The nature of the village
was driven to be in strict harmony with the natural environment of the entire
country. Today, traveling throughout Moldova and the neigboring Romania, one can
be pleasantly surprised when observing the extent to which one village differs from
another village in terms of their general outlook. These differences underscore not
only the cultural influences of a location, but also the specific details of the land
surrounding a village.