Traditions across Europe-an eTwinning project

“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, TRADITION and myth frame our response.” (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.)

23 April in Romania: Sfantul Gheorghe-St. George Day April 26, 2008

Filed under: St. George — LL @ 1:34 pm
Tags: , ,

Every year, on the 23rd of April, Romanian people celebrate Sfantul Gheorghe or St. George Day. He is one of the most important saints in the Orthodox calendar.

In our region—Bucovina—people who live in villages cut small square pieces of fresh ground, stick willow branches into it and put them at the entrance. They are thought to be a spring symbol.

Few people know the meaning of this tradition. Not even the old ones can say why they do that, but they think it is the right thing to do on St. George Day. Some say that this tradition is not a Christian one and it would not be surprising because lots of pagan elements here have been incorporated into the Christian faith.

According to the Christian tradition, St. George was born in nowadays Turkey, in Cappadocia, to a Christian family. When Emperor Diocletian began his persecution of the Church, he was arrested and suffered great torture for boldly confessing belief in Jesus Christ. He was beheaded in 303 A.D.

Popular tradition associates St. George with the killing of the dragon. That is why in many Orthodox icons he is pictured on a horse cutting off the head of a dragon.

Lots of men in Romania bear the name Gheorghe as a sign of respect for this saint. Also lots of churches in Romania are named after this saint. He is also the patron saint of the church in Comanesti, our village.

Mia, Adriana, Daniela, Teodor, Stefan and Tavi- Comanesti School


7 Responses to “23 April in Romania: Sfantul Gheorghe-St. George Day”

  1. gina Says:

    Planting branches on a piece of fresh ground is a very nice tradition and a suitable image of spring! It remids me a little our Easter tradition of “The lavurielle”. But from what kind of plant do you take the branches?

  2. gina Says:

    By the way! Tomorrow will be Easter day in Romania, won’t be?
    So, HAPPY EASTER to you all! I wish you, Liliana and kids and all our Romanian partners, an Easter full of peace, love, harmony and everythingelse you dream!

  3. Liliana Says:

    Dear Gina,

    Thank you for your wonderful words!
    Indeed we’re celebrating the Orthodox Easter tomorrow and we will soon let you know how we do it.

    That plant the kids were talking about is actually a tree called willow. I guess the Italian word for that is “salice”. You can see it in the photos. It’s just a small branch.

    A presto,

  4. Mihai Says:

    This post was such a pleasant surprise! I was searching for icons of the saint…

    The saint is not “cutting off the head of the dragon”, but rather piercing the mouth with the vertical spear (vertical therefore connected to God, and with a small cross at the top).

    The exact same symbolism is present in what you describe, with the vertical plant (spring -> creation) that is stuck in the soil. The soil fragment is removed from it’s place so it shows the “spear” penetrated below the surface, in the same way blood is shown coming out of the beast’s mouth.

    This tradition is another re-enactment of the reality depicted in the icon.

    At least this is what I think…


  5. Liz Says:

    Was St. George’s Day celebrated April 24th in Romania in the 15th century? When reading about the lag time between the Julian and Gregorian calendar, it said that the lag time between the two increases one day every century.

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