Yesterday i celebrated Ziua de Sfântul Nicolae with my host family. Since i didn't know what exactly that meant, i looked it up and this is what i found:
I'm gald i looked it up because it really made me WANNA celebrate it! St. Nicholas was a cool dude and he's where Santa Claus is derived from!
We had a masă (party/feast) with LOTS of food, of course.
In Moldova there's ALWAYS a reason to celebrate:
- birthdays, which are always celebrated on the actual days themselves...no need to wait until weekends to get drunk
- "leftover" masă's from the day before - one time i went to school and during one of the 10 minute breaks a whole masă was prepared in the conference room, which was leftover from the previous day's masă, including meat, mayo, cheese, and other foods left out for over 24 hours unrefrigerated...o ya, and the shots of whiskey...all during the "10 minute" (which ended up being about 30 minutes) break inbetween classes...ALL the staff was there while unsupervised children were left to their own devices in their classrooms...interesant!
- somebody's cousin's baby's birthday (without the birthday person actually being present)
- and the always fun (and confusing) double holidays - 2 Christmas's, 2 New Year's, 2 Easters, 1 national Independence Day, but several "Hram's" (individual village "birthdays").
And since we're in the Christmas season, i'll explain a little about the 2 Christmas's (of which Ziua de Sfântul Nicolae is not included...so it's kinda like a 3rd Christmas). "1st Christmas", or "New Christmas" is on December 25th. And "2nd Christmas" or "Old Christmas" is on January 7th.
When Moldova was occupied by Russia, Russia didn't allow the celebration of religious holidays, so they tried to downplay Christmas on December 25th by making New Year's (January 14th because they followed the Julian Calendar) more of a national celebration. So, the religious people of Moldova (98% of Moldovans are Christian Orthodox) went along with the January celebrations of "New Year's" but secretly celebrated Christmas instead. Since Moldova became independent in the 1990's, Western influence has intertwined with their culture and December 25th once again became Christmas, or as they call it here, "1st" or "New" Christmas. But, the Eastern culture is alive and well here too, so "2nd" or "Old" Christmas is also celebrated on January 7th! It depends on the family and /or village which one or both are celebrated. Mama-G told me we celebrate "Old" Christmas on January 7th, so that's when I'll be celebrating with my host family :o]