Traditions across Europe-an eTwinning project

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

St. Andrew’s Day in Romania November 25, 2008

Filed under: Old traditions — ivasil @ 1:38 pm


The 30th of November is one of the important Romanian holidays. It is the day we celebrate Saint Andrew (in Romanian his name is Andrei), the apostle who christianised our people and  the protector of our country.
There are many traditions without religious meaning connected to this day, some of them having their origin on the Roman celebrations of Saturn. The Dacian New Year took place from the 14th of November until the 7th of  December, this was the interval when time began its course.
Saint Andrew is seen as an old man, because now the Sun is old and tired  too, it has no power. From the weather this day one can predict if the winter is going to be long and  frosty.
One of the elements that came from the Roman and Thracian celebrations was the one about wolves. Is it only a coincidence that we, the descendants of Dacians, whose flag was shaped as a wolf, have chosen the patron of wolves as our protector? During this night, the wolves are allowed to eat  all the animals they want. It is said that they can speak, too, but anyone that hears them will die soon.
Early on St. Andrew’s day, the mothers go into the garden and pick tree branches, especially  from apple trees, pear trees, cherry trees, but also rose -bush branches. They make a  bunch of  branches for each family member. The one whose bunch will bloom by New Years day will be lucky and healthy next year.
On St. Andrew’s night ghosts haunt and harass the people. For protection, one should rub the entrance door with garlic and turn all the dishes upside down. A special party takes place now, called “Guarding the garlic”. Boys and girls gather in a house with the doors and windows rubbed with garlic . They also put garlic (three bulbs for each girl) in a wooden tub that is to be guarded till day-break by an old woman, in a candle-lit  oom. They party all night and in the morning  the wooden tub is taken outside and they dance around it. Then they all take some garlic home as protection against illness or spells.

St. Andrew is the patron of the wolves, being the one who protects the people attacked by these animals. St. Andrew is also celebrated in order that the wolves should stay away from the households or from the travelers. The salt is charmed and buried under the door of the stable. It will be taken out on St. George and given to the cattle, as a protection against the wolves and other evil things.

Nothing is lent on this day, so that the products of the field shouldn’t be stolen. The women aren’t allowed to wash or to comb their hair.

The children put apple, pear or plum branches in the water, so that they would bloom. These will be used on St. Vasile, as a “sorcova”. The girls and boys seed wheat and the one whose wheat grew more will be the luckiest one.
But the best known tradition connected to this night is the one about matrimony and premonitory dreams. Single girls must put under their pillow either a branch of  sweet basil, or , better 41 wheat grains.If someone takes the grains in their dreams, that means the girl will marry soon. They can also plant wheat in a dish and water it until New Year’s day. The nicer the wheat looks that day, the better the year to come.
All these traditions have no religious meaning, but they are preserved in Romanian people’s hearts and they are followed year after year.

Irina and the kids from Shool no 92, Bucharest


6 Responses to “St. Andrew’s Day in Romania”

  1. Gina Says:

    Very impressive stories and traditions! The most interesting is that one about the wheat grains under the pillow. Let me understand: Do they have to dream grains to be sure to merry soon? But I suppose all of them dream grains because they fall asleep thinking about it!
    Any way, wonderful post and… Happy St. Andrew’s Day!!!

  2. ivasil Says:

    If they put grains under the pillow, they have to marry a man who takes the grain. If they put a branch of sweet basil, they have to dream of a man who crosses a bridge! Either, or. Hurry up and tel any young girl hoping to get married soon! It’s for tonight. I tried it myself. Never dreamt of anything like it, but I still got married! So, it might fail sometimes…:)

  3. Liliana Says:

    We asked our grandparents about St. Andrew’s Day and we found out other interesting things about it.

    In our region, people say that on St. Andrew’s night all animals can talk, but the one who listens to them will die.

    Also, a pagan ritual connected to the girls’ practice of foreseeing their future love is the mirror guessing. The girl who wants to get married sits on a chair, with one mirror in front of her and one behind. Also four candles are lit and put on both sides. In this way she can see her future husband.

    Liliana&the kids

  4. ivasil Says:

    I think I had heard of the mirror ritual, too. Do people in your area still do any of these? Here, we only plant the wheat.

  5. Liliana Says:

    No, people here don’t do these things anymore, but some girls try them for fun. 🙂

  6. Tom Hegarty Says:

    St Andrew is also patron Saint of Scotland as some of his bones were taken there for safekeeping during the first century. Great to see he has been declared patron saint of Romania in recent years.

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