What is Christmas Like in Romania?
With Romania being a mostly Christian nation, celebrating Christmas is just as important there as it is across many other European countries. It is a magical time in the country as the more traditional aspects of Christmas are celebrated, such as coming together as a family and spending time with loved ones. If you are planning on spending time in this amazing country during the seasonal period, then this is what you can expect!
Christmas markets are abundant in Romania and are hugely popular with both locals and visitors to the country. The capital of Bucharest is known throughout Europe for its expansive and diverse Christmas markets that runs from the end of November until the big day itself. The main market can be found in Constitution Square with traders coming from across the country to show their products. You can find a huge range of homemade wares and foods, a great chance to grab some presents, or just try some new local dishes!
Outside of the capital, places such as Sibiu and Brasov have excellent Christmas markets also. These will be a little smaller but equally well attended, as many locals turn out to support the traders and enjoy the festive spirit.
Food is wholly important at this time of year, with many Romanians having spent much or all of advent following the strict fasting rules. Having spent the last month or so limiting themselves of their favourite foods, Christmas is a day of feasting. Typically, the morning begins early, with the preparation of a nutty, chocolatey cake called cozonac.
Also enjoyed throughout the day are appetizers that include pork specialities such as sausage and smoked ham. Tripe soup also makes an appearance along with greaves and sarmale.
In tradition with other countries in Europe, Romania is a big fan of sweet pastries, and these are produced to serve carol singers with when they knock at the door.
In December, weather in Romania is as cold as you’d expect, often below freezing and bringing with it a selection of rain, snow and sleet. Thankfully, the country is well used to these kinds of weathers and many of the usual services such as buses remain operational unless a particularly heavy snowfall.
When visiting during Christmas, make sure to pack plenty of layers to keep warm. Strong and sturdy shoes or boots are also a must as water on the ground can freeze, causing slushy ice to form. Hats, gloves and scarves are also recommended.
As with many other celebrating countries, gifts are exchanged and Christmas trees are decorated in Romania. However, there are traditions that run much deeper than these. Commencing on the 14th November is the nativity fast, which runs up until Christmas day. This sees many religious Romanians look to prepare their minds, bodies and their homes to celebrate Jesus’ birth properly. Along with this, confession and the Holy Communion play an important role in the preparations for Christmas. Although many do not celebrate this tradition in its entirety, there are still lots of people that look to respect and celebrate this tradition at least for a couple of days.
Another common tradition found in Romania is the celebration of St. Nicholas, taking place on 5th December. This sees children polish and clean their shoes in the evening and leave them by the door with the hope that St. Nicholas (Moș Nicolae, known as Old Man Nicholas) leaves presents for them by the morning. There are also a number of other traditions in the lead up to Christmas day such as Saint Andrew’s feast and the Great Union Day. On 20th December is Saint Ignatius Day, typically when Romanians complete their final preparations for Christmas. This includes slaughtering a pig if they live rurally and buying their Christmas tree from a market.
If you would like to visit Romania at Christmas to enjoy the festive spirit of the country, why not check out our Bucharest Christmas market experience? We also have our blog full of useful tips on visiting Romania and the many beautiful places in the country.