As we are in Midwinter, give or take, the festival of the Saturnalia is upon us, and such the sound track of many a place is quite transformed – and has been, depending on each person’s luck for up to a month.
It is that special time of year where in every store and on radio station you hear the same old Christmas music. Somehow, all Christmas music was made in the past and is now repeated. Also, at least round these parts, so called Christmas Fairs are popping up, giving you the chance to hear the music in the streets and squares.
Some people like that – it puts them in a Christmas mood, reminds them of childhood or it goes well with the day drinking. Some people hate it and are sick and tired of the same stuff. For both these types of people the solution is simple: instead of listening to your old Christmas music, listen to Romanian old Christmas music.
Romanian carols were originally sang by well… carolers. This was when most Romanians lived in villages and it was a deeply rooted tradition. Usually a group of people would go house to house to announce the Holidays, bring a bit of cheer in the long winter days, ward off bad spirits and get some goodies and, for the adults, a bit of tuica.
If you knew Romanian, you would catch two common themes in carols. One is religious, announcing the birth of Christ, and the second is about the actual act of caroling and asking people to open their homes, get the carolers inside for warmth, and bring out the goodies.
Goodies are usually baked goods and a bit of brandy or wine. Also walnuts are prominent, as most fruit is was not really available in winter, although recently oranges have become a staple associated with Christmas.
Off course carols, especially on YouTube, are not exactly what they were 100 years ago, but this is a selection of the more popular ones around here, the ones some of us are sick of hearing every year.
Nowadays Romanians often associate carols with Ștefan Hrușcă, in both a nostalgic and mocking fashion, depending. There are lots of jokes about him, he is a bit of a joke, but not in a mallicious way and still sort of popular around Christmas. He now lives and works in Toronto, the one in Canada, and comes to Romania to sing during December and makes some extra money.