The real carolling happens on the Christmas evening and night. The carollers gather in very well organised groups. Each group chooses a leader usually called „vătaf“ or „jude“. Several lads in charge with the transportation of the received gifts join the actual carollers. They carry the gifts in sacks and pouches and dont have a role in the singing part. In the old days, each group was allowed to carol in only one part of the village, beforehand agreed upon among all groups of carollers; and good observance to the rule was paid.
Once inside the yard of the house, the carollers unfold their “ play list” to the members of the visited family all gathered on the threshold. The songs are always accompanied by dances. After the show is over, the head of the family invites the carollers inside the house. Before starting the feast, the carollers leader asks the group to sing more carols. The length of the performance is very much related to the social status of the host and the envisaged number of gifts.
One carol can have more versions for the lyrics. (local version, Christian or worldly version )
From Christmas to Epiphany Festival, the children carry around the Star , old custom met at all Christian people.
The meaning of this custom is to be a reminder of the Star that announced the birth of Jesus and showed the way to the three Wise Men.
The songs about the Star have different sources: orthodox Byzantine literature, Catholic Church medieval Latin literature, some literature of Calvin influence and many of them, even local traditions. The little choir of the Star-bearers that enters the house during Christmas days sings religious rimes about the birth of Jesus:"The Star rises above"; "In the town of Bethlehem"; "At the wedding that happened"; "Three Wise Men from the east".
This ritual usually lasts from Christmas until New Year. The masks that picture in Bethlehem biblical characters are here replaced by one single animal mask , whose name varies from one region to another: stag in Hunedoara , goat in Moldova or Ardeal , bull in Southern Transylvania. In Muntenia and Oltenia, the goat is called „brezaia“ (due to the variegated appearance of the mask) and the custom is practiced especially on New Year’s day.
The goat is made of a short wooded stick , carved in the shape of a goat , which is wrapped in red paper . Another chopped black paper, wrinkled in the shape of hair is put on the red paper. A furry piece of leather can be used instead. Where the eyes are supposed to be two gouges are carved, in which two large kidney beans white with black spots are put over which the wrinled black paper is stuck.
Two spoons are used as ears. On the back of the neck, there are four little horns , beautifully decorate with coloured paper and strings of beads .
Behind the horns lies a mirror that proudly reflects the light of the houses where the goat enters at night. Between the two upper jaws, the attached lower jaw moves around an unnoticeable pin. This jaw is covered in the same way as the head is. Under the neck there is a hole in which an one foot long stick inserted , which supports the goat. In front of the lower jaw there is a small bell and behind it a wire. If the wire is loose, the front site of the lower jaw hangs. If the wire is quickly pulled, the goat’s mouth shuts up with a dry bang. Of course, the bell rings. The stick and the wire are covered with a thick fabric, which will cover the person that holds the goat.
The mask is accompanied by a loud crowd, with the ever present fiddlers playing the music for the goat.The goat jumps and jerks, turns and bends, with a rhythmic clatter of the wooden jaws. A genuine show genuine that arouses shivers of fear. Much attenuated in its current urban performance, the show is especially remarkable due the originality of costumes and the choreography. Researchers assume that goat dance and other masked events found in Romanian villages at Christmas time derive from archaic sacred ceremonies dedicated to the death and rebirth of the divinity.
The little plough
Urare tradiţională la români in preajma Anului Nou, pluguşorul a păstrat scenariul ritualic al unei invocări magice cu substrat agrar. El e întotdeauna însoţit de strigături, pocnete de bici şi sunete de clopoţei, dar plugul adevărat, tras de boi, a fost înlocuit cu timpul de un plug miniatural, mai uşor de purtat, sau de buhaiul care imită mugetul boilor. Textul pluguşorului şi-a pierdut astăzi caracterul de incantaţie magică. Recitată într-un ritm vioi, urarea devine tot mai veselă, mai optimistă, pe măsură ce se apropie de sfârşit.
Romanian traditional greeting around New Years’ time, the little plough keeps the ritual scenario of a magical invocations with agricultural substrate. It is always accompanied by shouting, whip popping and bells ringing. The real plow drawn by oxen, was replaced in time by a miniature plug, easier to carry and a leather made instrument that imitates the sound of oxen. Recited in a lively pace, the greeting becomes more and more cheerful, more optimistic, as it draws to a close
A New Year’s custom, walking with sorcova is especially the children’s joy. They wear a budding tree twig tree or ornament made of a stick woven around with colourful paper flowers. The name comes from the Bulgarian word Surov (tender green),a hint to the just blossom branch, once torn from a tree. Bend several times towards a person, the sorcova plays somehow the role of a magic wand, having the power to pass onto that person strength and youth. The text of the greeting , resembling to a spell , merely reinforces the movement of the sorcova.A New Year’s custom, wandering with sorcova is especially the joy of children. They wear a budding tree twig.