The tradition of Christmas carolling has been kept in Romania, where those who travel to the country’s villages get to see the ‘real’ carolling- and we’ll cover that later on. But there are ways to discover traditional Romanian carolling for those who stay in Bucharest too. Starting the first week of December, with a peak before Christmas, and in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, groups of carollers will start touring the neighbourhoods of Bucharest.
Some groups, like the Calusari in the video below, will choose to chant their traditional songs in between blocks of flats, sometimes (rarely) also entering the blocks. The sound effect in between the blocks usually brings the volume to a high level, so don’t panic if you hear such noises in December – nobody invaded, it’s most likely a group of such carollers.
The Calusarii dance is a healing and protection ritual – in the countryside they would dance in people’s yards or on the street. The custom is still kept in more traditional Romanian villages, especially in the south of Romania.
There will also be groups of masked people in your neighborhood, and there will also be groups of kids singing a carol or two in front of your door. In the latter case, it is customary to give them some money (RON 1, 5 or 10 for each child, depending on how much you want to spend). You can also give them fruits and cookies, but most of the kids do this to raise money for Christmas presents nowadays, so they will be happier with money.
There will also be professional groups of carollers, you’ll figure that out based on the quality of their singing. Or theology students, who have amazing voices. While probably many do not expect gifts in return for their singing, it would be useful to have at hand some money and/or gifts in case you want to offer.
You can always choose to attend one of the many concerts of Christmas carols. The Romanian singer Stefan Hrusca (in picture) is famous for his Christmas carols, he lives in Canada and actually only holds concerts, both in Romania and in Canada during this part of the year. There are other concerts as well, usually at Sala Palatului (Palace Hall).
Meanwhile, here are some Romanian Christmas carols selected from all over – audio and video below.