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The Romanian Christmas Carols

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   TRADITIONAL ROMANIAN CAROLS, origins: although the text of all carols is concerned with the events of the NATIVITY, certain elements of the folk rituals performed around CHRISTMAS are probably pre-Christian in origin, having their roots in the Roman Saturnalia and pagan rituals related to the winter solstice and soil fertility.
   CAROLS (colinde) are performed in all parts of ROMANIA (including R. MOLDOVA), with regional variations in terms of number of participants, exact timing of different melodies and lyrics.
   In terms of artistic mastery of verse and melody, carols occupy an important place in the creation of the ROMANIAN PEOPLE. They form a unity with doine, popular ballads and songs of bravery, with tales, riddles, proverbs and sayings.
   In traditional Romanian rural society, preparations for colinde started well in advance (sometimes weeks) before CHRISTMAS. The village youth (usually boys) would begin to form groups in different places and designate a leader. Then, starting on CHRISTMAS EVE, the groups would go to different houses and begin singing. The families would then invite them into the house, and give them different small gifts such as nuts, dried fruits and bagels.
   Examples of carols with religious subject are "Astăzi s-a născut Hristos" (Today Christ was born), "Moș Crăciun cu plete dalbe" (Santa Claus with white tress) and "O, ce veste minunată!" (O, what wonderful news!), (i.s.).


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