Traditions across Europe-an eTwinning project

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

Asking for Protection April 10, 2010

Filed under: Religious traditions — ivasil @ 10:20 pm

These crosses are traditionally placed in important places such as in the crossroads, in the fields or by the fountains, as a request for the divine protection related to the activities that take place there. These ones are from an open air museum in Sibiu, except for the last one, which actually was in a field nearby. I like them very much, I hope you will too.


The Epiphany January 11, 2009

Filed under: Old traditions,Religious traditions — ivasil @ 11:00 pm

The 6-th of January is the day the Orthodox Church celebrates the Baptizing of Christ (Boboteaza). It’s the day that ends the winter holidays that have started on Christmas Eve. On this day we recall the moment when Jesus Christ was christened in he water of Jordan.boboteaza-1
There are many beliefs and traditions about this day. For example, the Romanians hope this will be a very frosty day (and it actually is, inexplicably often), as they say that the frost and the snow  bring good luck and welfare for the whole year and for everyone.

By far, the most important tradition connected to this day is “The Blessing of the Water”, that takes place in different forms near a river, or even near a public fountain. A large number of  believers attend to this ceremony, despite the frost. If the water is frozen, people cut an ice-hole, bring a table and make an ice cross while the priest celebrates the Mass. After this, young girls and boys wearing national costumes take icons, flags and candles fom the church and go to the water, followed by priests and everybody else. They all form half a circle around the table. The priest dips the cross three times into the water and blesses the water, turning it into holy water. In some regions he then throws the cross into the river and young boys jump in and recover it. Of course it is a great honour to be the one that did it. At the end of the prayer, everybody takes home some holy water, that is said to bring good luck, cure illnesses and never go bad, no matter how long you keep it.

In the North region  there is another tradition that Liliana and her kids might know more about, since it should also exist in their area. After the Blessing, young girls and boys go on a hill and start a big fire. They all sing and dance around it in a circle. As the fire slows down, they start to jump over it and through the smoke making wishes for good luck and good health. The two elements (water and fire) are thought to help each other’s purifying strength.
All these traditions were initially conceived as ways to fight bad spirits that come on Earth as a new year begins. For us they are a symbol of the solidarity of people in our community and a melancholic sign that the winter holidays (with their smell of cinnamon and sponge cake)boboteaza-2 are coming to an end.

The kids from 6C, School 92 Bucharest


Churches in Bucharest November 17, 2008

Filed under: Religious traditions,Typical places — ivasil @ 5:48 pm

Antim Monastery
It was founded by the metropolitan bishop Antim Ivireanul, a famous name of our culture.
He started one of the first printing works in Romania, was a writer and a sculptor.
The monastery was designed by Antim himself, two of the original plans still exist. Antim payed for the building of the monastery himself.
It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest in the Brancovenesc style.
It was planned as a fortress, the church in the middle and the cells around it, with a tower in each corner. During the Phanariot regime the church was robbed by the Greek in1790 and brought to a pitiful state.
It was only restored completely in 1870.

Bucur Church
According to he tradition, it was first built of wood by Bucur, the shepherd who founded our town.
The ruler Mircea cel Batran then raised the brick church in 1416, even before the city had become the capital of Wallachia.
This is said to be the second oldest church in Bucharest.

Casin Monastery
It mixes the Brancovenesc style (with the entrance columns) and the Byzantine one (the shape of the Greek cross, mosaics, the high and spacious building).
It’s one of the tallest churches in Bucharest, meant to be seen from far away.

Coltea Church

It was founded by Spatarul (the Sword Bearer) Catacuzino between 1701-1702
I has rich adornments specific to the Brancovenesc style.
The frescos are painted by Gh. Tattarescu.

The Old Court Church
One of the most valuable buildings of the religious architecture from the Feudal Age, the oldest in Bucharest. It is preserved in its initial form built between 1545-1547 by the ruler Mircea Ciobanul for the needs of the Ruling Court. There are also some frescos from the reign of Serban Cantacuzino still preserved. It was declared a historical monument.

Domnita Balasa Church
The church is built in the Neo-Roman style.
The original building was founded by Domnita Balasa, the 6th daughter of Constantin Brancoveanu. Her tomb can be seen inside the church.
The stained glass windows were made in Munich and the chandelier in Vienna.
Just outside the church there is Domnita Balasa’s statue, one of the best works of Carol Storck.
The inscription on the pedestal mentions the estates the church had received.
The church is a historical and architectural monument.

Radu Voda Monastery
It was built in 1568 by Mircea Ciobanu’s son, set on fire by the Turks withdrawing from the glorious attack of Michael the Brave and restored during the reign of Radu Mihnea.
It hosts Gh Tattarescu’s paintings.
It is an important monument of our capital due to its troubled history and historical value. The first library in Bucharest functioned here during the 16th century.

Mihai Voda Monastery
It was built by Michael the Brave between 1589-1591 on the place of an old church.
It had strong defense walls and royal houses that were later used as residence of the Phanariot rulers.
The present complex includes the church (an architectural and historical monument), the Palace of the State Archives and the Belfry.

The Patriarchal Cathedral
This stunning 17th-century cathedral, situated on a hill overlooking Southern Bucharest, is the Romanian Orthodox Church headquarters.
A fabulous fresco of the blessed and the damned, ascending to heaven or tumbling into hell, adorns the entrance, as well as the oldest icon on the site, depicting patron saints Constantin and Helen (1665).
It was built between 1656-1658, by the ruler Costantin Serban Basarab and finished in the time of Radu Leon when it became the headquarters of the Metropolitan Church. The hill it is standing on is therefore called the Metropolitan Hill.
The only thing left from the monastery’s establishments is a beautiful belfry built during Constantin Brancoveanu’s reign, in 1698.

St. Nicholas Church
It is also called The Russian church, because it is built in a typical Russian style. It is the only such church in Romania.
People also call it Students’ Church because since 1933 it’s been the Bucharest University chapel of ease.
It was built between 1905-1909 and partly financed by the Tzar Nicholas. It was destined to be used by the Russian community.
The seven onion-shaped tower roofs used to be gold gilded, but it was washed away by the rain.

The New St. Spiridon Church
This is the biggest church in Bucharest.
The iconostasis is painted by Gheoghe Tattarescu and the stained glass windows were made in Vienna in 1860

The Old St. Spiridon Church
This small church on the Dambovita’s shore has many strange features.
First, its shape is unusual for the Orthodox churches, because it has no towers.
Then, it’s position: it stood at first on the left bank of the Dambovita. Due to the river’s channelling, it now stands on the right bank. As the ground went down after the works, it now is one meter lower than the street’s level, so instead of climbing stairs to get in, you have to go down.
It is the only Orthodox church in the world that has the inscription above the entrance written in Greek and Arab instead of Slavonic.
Last, but the most important: this is not the original church, the one built in the 17th century. That one was destroyed in 1987 during Ceausescu’s regime. As it was so small, one afternoon was enough for the bull-dozers to tear it down.
It was rebuilt in 1992 on the same spot and using the parts that had been preserved from the old church: the entrance with the inscription, the columns, the window-frames and the icons.

Stavropoleos Church
The small and beautiful Stavropoleos church is hidden behind the National History Museum, between higher buildings.
According to its story, it was founded by a Greek monk named Ioanichie, who settled down here.
It is built in the Brâncovenesc Style, a typical Romanian style from the 17th-19th centuries. It can be seen in its columns, pedestals, balcony and the carved ornaments showing plants and animals. The church survived many earthquakes, starting with two very bad ones in 1802 and 1838, but now both the building itself and the surrounding area need major rehabilitation.

Zlatari Church
The legend says it was first built of wood during the reign of Matei Basarab (17th century) by the Greek craftsmen who were making gold objects.
It was rebuilt in 1705 and then again after the 1802 and 1838 earthquakes, using Xavier Villacrosse’s plans.
The interior paintings made by Gh. Tattarescu and the silver framed icons are real works of art. Unfortunately, the painting needs urgent reparations.

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.