Traditions across Europe-an eTwinning project

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

Saints Peter and Paul’s Day Fair June 30, 2008

Filed under: Festivals and fairs,How we spend our holidays — ivasil @ 2:38 pm

On the 29th of June it’s Saints Peter and Paul’s Day.

Each year on this day there’s a big two-days fair at the Village Museum in Bucharest. There are shows with traditional dances and songs, but the most interesting thing to see these two days are the displays of the craftsmen coming to Bucharest from all over the country. You can see, buy, taste and even watch them make about anything you can think of: rugs, traditional costumes, dolls, masks, sweets, pottery, house decorations, glass, wood, straw, bone and leather objects, jewels, musical instruments, icons painted on wood or glass and many more. Everything is hand-made, using only natural materials and even the environment, the displays and the craftsmen are a joy for visitors’ eyes.

Here are some scenes. We hope you enjoy them.

Irina and the kids from School 92, Bucharest


Romania- 24th June: Saint John the New of Suceava June 25, 2008

Every year, on the 24th June, the Orthodox people in Romania celebrate the great martyr and saint John the New of Suceava (in Romanian: Sfantul Mare Mucenic Ioan cel Nou de la Suceava).Here you can find a short article about his life.

His relics are kept in the monastery which bears his name and which is located in the centre of Suceava town. Here is a photo of the monastery:

On this day, lots of people from all over Romania and even Ukraine (the border with Ukraine is very close to the town of Suceava) come here on a pilgrimage to pray and touch the relics of the saint.

The pilgrimage usually starts on the 23rd of June, early in the morning, when the priests move the sarcophagus with the relics of the saint outside the church, under the lime trees in the monastery’s courtyard. In the evening, the priests pray together with the pilgrims until late at night. Lots of pilgrims choose to spend the night near the relics of the saint praying individually. In the morning they attend the liturgy. After the liturgy, the relics of the saint are carried throughout the town. They say it always rains on this day.

More than 15, 000 people came to Suceava this year to pray because it is believed that the relics can perform miracles and bring health and happiness. Here are a few photos and a short video.



Sanzienele (Midsummer Day) June 24, 2008

Filed under: Traditions and nature — ivasil @ 10:37 am
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Every year, on June 24, the Romanians celebrate the most spectacular pagan holiday of the year: Sanzienele . This night it is believed to be magic, miracles are possible, beneficial forces, but also negative ones, arriving at the top of their powers.
The celebration has its origins in an ancient solar cult. The name is probably taken after “Sancta Diana”, the forest goddess.

The origin of these traditions goes far back in time and their Dacian name is forgotten. The Roman name, “Sanziana”, coming from “Sancta Diana” is still used in Transylvania and the Slavonic one, “ Dragaica”, is still in use in Walachia and Oltenia.

The legends say that Sanzienele are some very beautiful girls, who live in forests or plains. They start a dance called “hora” and give special power to flowers and weeds, turning them into miraculous medicinal plants, good for all the diseases. The legends say that during this night fairies fly through the air or walk on earth. They sing and bring fertility to crops and to married women, to birds and animals, cure the sick, defend sown fields from hail. If people do not celebrate them in an appropriate way, they are upset, and take revenge.

This day also represents an opportunity for young people who want to unite their destinies to meet, a celebration of love, done by singing and dancing. On the eve, girls and boys who are going to marry get together in each village. There are fairs and everyone is merry. The boys build bonfires, while the girls pick up yellow wild flowers that are also called “sanziene”. It’s a small yellow inflorescence rich in polen and smelling of hay and honey. The girls make garlands for themselves, for their home and for each member of the family. Then they go home and, at the sunset, they hang some of the wreaths to the doors, windows, barns, stables etc.and they throw the remaining ones on the roof of the house. If it stays there, it’s the sign that person will marry next year, if not, this will have to wait. For the old ones, the falling wreath means there will be no other such holiday. The higher it stops on the roof, the longer the life ahead.

The ceremonial then includes the entire village. After the dark, men and boys go on the hills carrying torches that they turn around making them burn and spark intensely. It’s a contest and they cheer and shout as they do it. After midnight, when the torches are almost burnt out, they go down the hills, where girls and women join. They build a fire and jump over it for luck.

This day, which marks the middle of summer, was considered to be the best time to collect medicinal plants.
All are now making weather forecasts in order to determine the best time that autumn for wheat sowing.
The dew that falls this night has magical powers, too. If you wash your face with it you will be good-looking and if you pick it from the flowers at dawn your bones will not hurt. Any object left outside during the night and wet with the dew can be an amulet.

This is supposed to be the day the cuckoo grows mute, turns into a hawk and leaves for the mountains, furious on the birds that can still sing. (Actually, the day when the cuckoo leaves is a total mystery and there is a proverb that says: ”The women will understand what men think when they will know the day the cuckoo leaves.”)

This night is one of peace and quiet, when storms never happen and even the wind is silent.

Class 8A, School no. 92, Bucharest


Icelandic national day June 18, 2008

Filed under: National Days — Ella Jóna @ 11:57 pm
Tags: ,

Hi everyone, summer is here in Iceland and all the kids are now on vacation until August 21st. But we still think of you.

June 17th is our national day and my kids made some slides about the mountain woman which comes to every festival in Iceland.


Traditional Romanian Costume

Filed under: Traditional costumes — ivasil @ 2:09 pm

The structure of the Romanian traditional costume has remained unchanged over the centuries.

The basic piece of the costume both for men and women is a shirt made from wool, hemp or linen. The shirt is tied round the waist with a kind of belt called ‘brau’, which is narrow for women and wider for men.

Women’s traditional clothing includes a shirt. In the past, it used to reach to the ankles. An apron is always worn over the shirt.This was initially a single piece of cloth wrapped round the lower part of the body and secured by a belt at the waist. In Transylvania and in the South-West of our country, there are two separate aprons: one worn at the back and one-at the front.

Men’s traditional clothing includes a white shirt, white trousers, a hat, a belt, waistcoat or overcoat. Shirts are often worn outside trousers. Traditional costumes are often different, depending on the county. Differences can be the shirt length, type of embroidery, hat shape, trousers cut or waistcoat decoration. Hungarian man living in Romania, usually in counties Harghita and Covasna, wear more modern clothes, like trousers made of dark material rather than white, which reflect their frequent communication with the West and the developed countries.

The outer articles of clothing worn by both women and men are similar, differing in cut and decoration, which depend mainly on the region from which they are. These are usually made of sheepskin or wool and decorated with silk embroidery or leather.

Traditional clothing worn on workdays and festivals used to be similar, but the festive dress, especially the one worn for weddings, was more richly embroidered. In the past, the head-wear worn by the bride was adorned with specific local styles.

Various pieces or our national costume have disappeared during the 20th century. The first item were the leather peasant sandals, although, even nowadays, they can be seen in poor villages. Also, in most villages men’s traditional trousers were replaced by modern factory made trousers and jeans have become very common. What is more, traditional over garments became very expensive and now they are worn only by people who live in wealthy villages. To continue, most of the national cloth-makers have died and there is no one to continue with the tradition.

However, if you take a closer look in the villages, you can see that some older people still wear items of traditional clothing. In Oas and Maramures even young girls wear the local costume on Sundays. To continue, men’s traditional fur hats are still worn in winter in rural areas. Women usually wear a printed woolen scarf and a traditional straw hat over it when working in the fields in summer.

All in all, I think that we should be very proud of our traditional costume as it remains a testimony of Romania’s long history and our glorious past.

Costumes worn at a festival

In a school event

…and me

Olimpia, class 8A, School no. 92, Bucharest


Water supply at our grandparents’ times/Approvvigionamento dell’acqua ai tempi dei nostri nonni June 17, 2008

Al tempo dei nostri nonni, nessuno aveva l’acqua corrente in casa, per cui occorreva approvvigionarsi recandosi alle fontane pubbliche: I recipienti utilizzati erano diversi a seconda della quantità d’acqua che si desiderava portare: c’era ù varrilë u gùmmëlë, a јáschë,‘”a langèllë” ecc.

Con questo lavoro abbiamo voluto ripercorrere questa esperienza ,nel nostro centro storico, utilizzando i recipienti dell’epoca e con alcuni bambini vestiti con il caratteristico costume locale.

At our grandparents times, nobody had  flowing water in his home, therefore they needed to supply going to the public fountains: the  containers they used were different in order to the quantity of water they wanted to get: there was ù varrilë (  the barrel), u gùmmëlë( the jar), a јáschë( the flask),‘a langèllë” ( the earthware jug) etc.

With this work we wanted to go along this experience, in our old town centre, using the containers of that epoch and with some children dressed  up in the local traditional costume.

Abbiamo selezionato alcune delle immagini che proponiamo ai nostri partners.

 We selected some of the images we propose to our partners.

I bambini posano per una foto ricordo presso una casa tipica dell’epoca.

The children are posing for a photo to keep as a souvenir near a typical house of that epoch.

Portiamo a casa l’acqua con ù varrilë ,   ( contenitore a doghe di legno) e con u gùmmëlë ( contenitore in terracotta).

Let’s get home the water with the varrilë (wooden stave container) and the gùmmëlë(earthenware container).

Una sosta per dissetarsi.

A stop to quench our thirst.

In posa presso una delle caratteristiche fontane pubbliche nel nostro centro storico : ‘a fundænë  ‘i San Gësèppë”.

In pose near one of the typical public fountains in our old town centre: ‘a fundænë  ‘i San Gësèppë” (the saint Joseph’s fountain).

Ora riempiamo u gùmmëlë.

Now let’s fill the gùmmëlë.

Ecco i caratteristici costumi dei nostri nonni e, rispettivamente,u gummëliĉĉhјë,‘a langèllë” ,u gùmmëlëe ù varrilë .

Here are the typical costumes of our grandparent’s and, respectively, the gummëliĉĉhјë  (the small jar), thelangèllë” ( the jug ) ,the gùmmëlë” ( the big jar) and the varrilë ( the barrel).

Mario e la classe 4^B – Scuola Primaria “A. Ciancia” – Francavilla in Sinni (PZ) – Italia


Glass-painted Icons June 9, 2008

Filed under: Typical activities — ivasil @ 4:39 pm

Painting icons on glass is a traditional Romanian activity. Pupils still learn how it’s done and try painting icons themselves, at least in our school, due to our dedicated Art teacher.

We are taking part in a Comenius project called „PLI. The Place we Live In”, with four more schools from Spain (the coordinating school), Poland, France and Italy (you can see some of our work here) and, for the transnational visit we have just hosted last month, we thought of inviting our guests to a typical activity, something that they had never tried before. So, we organized a traditional glass-painting workshop. It was not very difficult, because the Art teacher had prepared the „negative” of the paintings and the Romanian pupils helped their foreign partners. The icons came out really beautiful, the kids had fun painting together while listening to Romanian music at the same time, and maybe even discovered new skills.

Here are a few photos from the work progress and some information about glass painted icons.

A „definition” of the glass icon says that it has to be done according to a model (izvod). The model is used for a few icons and then stored again for some time. It usually has no anatomical proportions, but balanced chromatic patterns . The models currently used are 200-300 years old.
The old icons on glass are not signed because they are not original. The writing is Cyrillic, but being illiterate people (not all apprentices could write), the name of the saint they represent is often hard to read.

The icons on glass appeared for the first time in Transylvania (a richer region, with many forests to be used as a source of fuel for the glass manufacturing).
The first icons were found near Cluj, Nicula, then Sibiel, Fagaras.
There are several elements of a typical icon on glass: it represents a character or more, the remaining space is filled with flowers borders, rope borders (Nicula), stars borders Fagaras (Olt), Brasov (Scheii Brasov). In Moldavia, icons are adorned with flowers larger than the human representations .
Typically, icons on glass are painted using brushes made of cat, squirrel or horse hair. Colors are almost pure, without combining them and are made by the painter himself using natural ingredients.
The icon can have a central character such as the Mother of God, appearing in three postures: happy, with the Holy Child, grieved, with Jesus on the cross, or at the Lord’s birth.
The frame is rubbed with a wax candle and brushed in order to get an old look.
An interesting detail is that the glass icons often have a painted border to indicate the margins (not to think that it was covered by the frame).

Class 8A, School n. 92, Bucharest