New Year’s Eve (Revelion) is a popular observance in Romania, where people attend parties and watch fireworks to farewell the old year and to welcome the New Year. Many people attend social gatherings and stay up late (sometimes until daybreak) on New Year’s Eve in anticipation of New Year’s Day. They wait until the stroke of midnight between December 31 and January 1 to give each other greetings and best wishes for New Year’s Day, such as “An nou fericit!”or “La mulți ani!”. Fireworks and firecrackers are also lit to welcome the New Year in many Romanian cities. The tradition of setting off firecrackers and making noise on New Year (using bells or whips in the villages) has to do with the old belief that these noises cast out evil spirits.
It is recommended that at the stroke of midnight your wine glass is full, you have money in your pocket and you wear something red. Many families sit down for a meal right after midnight, and the menu has to include fish and champagne. The people who do not attend parties, will most likely stay up until after midnight and watch TV, as there are lots of special shows on the various channels.
There are many superstitions that come with ending the Old Year and welcoming the New Year in Romania. For example, wearing red clothing symbolizes good luck and cheerfulness. Babies born on New Year’s Day are considered to be lucky babies. Opening doors at midnight between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day symbolizes letting go of the passing year and starting the New Year. These are just a few of many symbols and beliefs associated with New Year’s Day.
While New Year’s Eve is celebrated in cities with parties at home, in bars and pubs, or in various resorts, in the countryside the night between the years is not as filled with traditions as Christmas and the days before it. In some parts of the country, the New Year starts with carolers dressed in special costumes and masks, performing a ritual dance meant to chase away the old, bad year.
The first day of the year the children go caroling a carol called Sorcova, wishing people a rich, fruitful year. The sorcova is a stick or twig decorated with flowers of different colors. Children slightly hit their parents or acquaintances in the morning of January 1 with the sorcova, wishing them health and luck.
The agrarian carol Plugusorul (the little plough) is also sang in the first day of the year. The Plugusor is an agrarian carol with theatrical elements, celebrating the work performed for the daily bread. The plough is decorated with colored ribbons, and sometimes a Christmas tree. The carol is accompanied by the sound of bells, of an instrument called buhai, and by the bangs of whips, creating a noisy atmosphere. Traditionally, the group of carolers singing the Plugusor was made up of unmarried or recently married men. The tradition of the Plugusor is practiced not only in the countryside, but also in cities. In the days before the New Year or on January 1, city residents can expect to hear carolers going from one block of flats to another.
Overall, the outlook of the day of January 1 is considered telling of the entire year. Because the New Year is a time of renewal, the popular tradition argues that the year should be welcomed with good thoughts so that the entire year is a good one. People should avoid getting upset or arguing and be merry, so they will stay in the same spirits the entire year.
Weather wise, the first day of the year will determine the entire year. If it is really cold, it is a sign that the year that just stared will be a good one, and many marriages will be celebrated. If it snows, the year will be a prosperous one, and if the weather is clear and freezing, people will be healthy throughout the year. New Year’s Eve is a big deal in Romania. The first day of the year is usually a day off for all Romanians, to rest up after the festivities, big meals and considerable drinking.