So this week we are doing Romania and Moldova together. Even though each is an independent country the people and culture are nearly the same. They eat the same foods, speak the same language, and mostly share the same religion.
ABOUT ROMANIA AND MOLDOVA:
Romania is a country right on the outskirts of Western Europe and Moldova, her next door neighbor is on the edge of Eastern Europe. Both countries have been invaded throughout her history, mainly by the Ottoman Turks and then the Russians. Because of this, their cultures are fused with many colors. We will discuss different parts of this in this blog.
Today Romania and Moldova are independent countries. Romania last gained independence from Soviet occupation around 1958, but Moldova was a communist country with ties to the Soviet Union much later than that. The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was the only revolution that ended communism violently in the Eastern Bloc. Now Romania is a Semi-Presidential Republic.
With the fall of the USSR in 1991, Moldova became a independent country. Out of all the former Soviet territories prior to the fall of the USSR, Moldova is the still the poorest. She is actually considered the poorest country in Europe. Moldova is a Parliamentary Republic.
FOOD IN ROMANIA AND MOLDOVA:
Both Romania and Moldova have struggled economically for a long time, but their food is sustaining, inexpensive, and tasty. In Europe we call this Peasant food, but it’s very delicious.
A typical breakfast is very simple and plain. One dish is called Mămăligă, which is a porridge made from yellow corn flour. Like most Eastern European countries, (even though Romania is not considered Eastern Europe), lunch is the main meal of the day. Usually some kind of meat is served. Ciorbă is a kind of meatball soup, that is stewed in vegetables, and vinegar or sauerkraut. Sarmale is a kind of vine leaf or cabbage roll that usually has some meat inside. This is commonly served at lunch or supper.
ROMANIAN AND MOLDOVAN FOLK DRESS:
Romanian (right) and Moldovan (left) folk dress is very similar. They both incorporate beautiful embroidered patterns that vary by region. All the different styles pictured here and from different parts of Romania and Moldova. For example, I can tell that the Moldovan dress on the bottom left is near to the Moldovan-Ukrainian boarder as that type of embroidery pattern is very similar to the pattern found in Western Ukraine.
ROMANIAN AND MOLDOVAN LANGUAGE:
Romanians and Moldovans both speak Romanian. When the Soviets were controlling their countries they tried to outlaw their own language and make them speak and write in Russian. This had a more lasting effect on Moldova, because the country was a part of the USSR for a long time. When the Soviet Union fell Moldova took for their national language Romanian. The main difference between Romanian in Moldova and Romanian in Romania was the writing. In Moldova they used the Cyrillic system of writing for awhile, and in Romania, they use the Roman system of writing. Today, however, Moldova has adapted the Roman system of writing.
It is not surprising that in both countries Russian is spoken by many people, though in Moldova it is much more common. Although Romanian has borrowed some Russian words (a Slavic language), Romanian also borrows words from French. Romanian language descends from Classical Latin. These are Romance languages and not related to Slavic. Some people jokingly refer to Romanians and Moldovans as Italians with Russian accents.
The Romanian alphabet has the same letters as ours, except there are extra accented letters that produce a different sound.
RELIGION IN ROMANIA AND MOLDOVA:
Islam and Judaism are present in Romania and Moldova, but most are Christians, specifically Orthodox Christians, which is a lot like Catholicism. The interesting thing is, is that usually countries that adopt the Cyrillic system of writing tend to be Orthodox, and those that adopt the Roman system, tend to be Catholics. This is not the case with Romania (and Moldova, as recently they changed their writing system to Roman).
TOYS AND GAMES IN ROMANIA AND MOLDOVA:
Like other children in the world, Romanian and Moldovan children love to play with dolls, cars and building blocks. It is also not uncommon for young children to learn to play instruments. Sports like Football (Soccer) are very popular there. The main difference would be is that much of Romanian/Moldovan living is in small apartments. Romanian and Moldovan children may not have as many toys as American children typically have. And those with houses, usually use their backyard space for gardens and growing fruits and vegetables. Children would therefore travel to play in community parks and playgrounds and invent street games more often than American children. During the communist era, people were very poor and children made their own toys out of pretty much anything they could find.
MUSIC IN ROMANIA AND MOLDOVA:
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian Composer who is well known, loved, admired and respected in Romania. He was born in a place, which is now a part of Romania, but at the time of his birth is was a part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Bela Bartok was what we now call an Ethnomusicologist, which is a branch of Cultural Anthropology. During the Romantic Era and into the beginning of the Modern Era in music, internationalism and patriotism took center stage. As it became easier for people to travel and experience cultures, people began to embrace their culture and show it off proudly. Folk music and dance were popularized and became tourist attractions. Bartok was a composer who studied the folk music of his native land, his neighbors, and even those far away. His Romanian Folk Dance compositions are some of his most well known works:
Traditional music in Romania and Moldova is a lot like what Bela Bartok recreated. Modern music however is very up beat and the kind of music you would hear at dance clubs. One popular song in Romania and Moldova became popular all around the world. The singers are from Moldova and the song is in Romanian:
DANCING IN ROMANIA AND MOLDOVA:
Traditional folk dance in Romania and Moldova are also very similar. Here is an example of each:
ROMANIAN AND MOLDOVAN INDEPENDENCE:
The independence of Romania and Moldova are a cause for much celebration. It is a celebration of no longer being governed by a foreign peoples (in the case of Moldova) and the freedom against an oppressive communist regime (as in the case of Romania and Moldova). In Romania it is referred to as Constitution Day, in Moldova it’s celebrated like the birthday of the country.
GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA (EASTER):
Easter or Holy Pascha, is an important celebration to all Christians. To the Orthodox Christians like the Romanians and Moldovans, it is especially important. Not only is it a celebration for Christ’s resurrection, but is also a time to remember those loved ones who have died. In Eastern European culture, the decoration of eggs is very elaborate. Unlike here in the United States, the eggs are decorated for decoration, and the contents emptied out of the egg before hand. Through a process of dying and using wax, colorful and intricate designs are scratched into the egg.
In Romania and Moldova, embroidery adorns much of the folk costumes. Usually it is red in color, so we will make a red embroidered flower design on a paper plate. As I have very young children, we will use red yarn and a large blunt tipped tapestry needle, as they are still developing their fine motor skills. Make sure the paper plates are not too thin and if they have a design on the rim that will make them all the prettier. For children a lot older they can actually try to do an advanced Romanian pattern like the one bellow, using a real embroidery hoop, thread, and needles.
Painted Wooden Spoons
Wooden spoons are often time very inexpensive and with a little paint, could make a really nice gift to hang in the Kitchen. These wooden spoons are hand painted in Romania and sold as tourists souvenirs. Some wooden spoons come with a hole already in the end so you can hang them, if not you can wrap twine at then end, leaving a loop to hang it from, and securing it with a bit of glue.