The Romanians celebrate Saint Dumitru on October 26, this being one of the most important religious holidays of the fall.
Many traditions have survived for centuries in Romania, with the most notable being the fire of Sumderu. On the night before the day of Saint Dumitru, the Romanians who still keep this tradition light big fires on the hills or in their gardens. It is believed that the children who jump over these fires will be healthy, while the young people who do the same will get married.
This fire is also said to drive out the beasts, bring health to the cattle, and keep the dead warm over the winter.
Women share bagels and fruits of autumn such as nuts, apples, grapes and dried plums to all those who jump over the fire. It is also believed that the fire helps the trees make more fruits so people take the ash and throw it in their gardens.
According to the traditions, Saint Dumitru was considered the patron of shepherds. On this day, the shepherds find out how the weather will be in the coming winter by placing their sheepskin coats in the middle of the sheep flock and waiting to see which of the animals sits on it. If a black sheep sits on the coat that means that the winter will be good. However, if a white sheep decides to rest on the coat, the winter will be harsh.
However, there is also another way of knowing how the winter will be, according to old Romanian beliefs. If a white sheep is the first to wake up and goes south, than the winter will be harsh. If a black sheep wakes up and goes north, the winter will be easy.
Another popular tradition says the winter will be mild if the weather is bad on the day of Saint Dumitru, and that a harsh winter will follow if this day comes with good weather.
In Bucovina, it is believed that those who are sowing garlic after the day of Sumedru will have lots of losses in the coming year. Meanwhile, the people in Oltenia believe that those who fully respect this day’s traditions and customs will be protected from trouble and danger.
The Romanians named Dumitru or Dumitra are being celebrated on the day of Saint Dumitru.
Irina Marica, [email protected]