Romanian Survival Book

March 20, 2007

Romanian culture of queuing

comert_1453464754.jpgIn the old times – read Ceausescu’s time –there were some rules for queuing. Since the food was inexistent as soon as the rumour reached among the city or the little village and their proud citizens of the communist mother, hungry crowds of people will assault the empty stores….once you entered you knew where is the queue and what for. Many times people didn’t even know what was the product and many people will send their kids to just sit there for them to ‘keep the line’. I never really figured how the rumour circulated but I suppose that were people in charge of spreading and others in charge of over-seeing the whole operation…they will get their share of chicken, bananas, oranges, eggs, rarely fish, rarely exquisite drinks, chocolate and other rarities before all the others. The securitate people had all the necessary in their houses in excess, which has been documented.

 

Anyway…once you spotted your place in the queue, you also needed to secure it otherwise older people will kick the kids out with no remorse….hence, most of the kids were very well trained to overcome any hindrances might appear in between them and the ratio of chicken or oranges or bananas ….otherwise, the parents will be upset and everyone in the family will starve once more until the next rumour of food available will come into town.

 

lapte.jpgThe milk queue was the worst: people will get up at 4.00 in the morning, take these types of bottles –photo bellow – and just put them in line outside the store for a few hours. The milk supply will come around 7.00 a.m., so they could still sleep a few more hours before going to work. The old people, retired, will just sit there chatting and waiting since 4.00 until 7.00 – if you knew one of them maybe they will get your bottles too. Some people could not afford these queues because of work, but pregnant women needed to do it; the powder milk was awful and had no nutrients at all. Better of were those with relatives in the countryside. There were awful, depressing times.

One would expect that these queuing ‘culture’ will build in a community spirit, will appropriate people….I cannot tell and it would be interesting to read a research on that. I would rather say, given the paranoia of ‘tell and go to securitate’, people will rarely make the mistake to open their hart while waiting and chatting with the guy next door….though many did. Considering that all were hungry, suspicious and anxious to grab as much food as possible that was the primary target and nothing else…people will often fight, swear and bully each other while queuing when the food was brought in. Nobody cared about the other but oneself. That might explain why the Romanian dissidence was almost un-existent and why there was not a solidarity spirit among people in this country. Everything was grey inside and outside and everyone will struggle for its own family and that’s all. No time for pity, any time for sympathising with the old woman next to you….she will grab the last piece of meat in front of you without blinking….that was, probably, the queuing mentality on those times.

 

Photos from http://www.igu.ro/latrecut/?cat=29 filled under ‘Alimentare’. Igu is someone who is documenting our past by collecting images of it on this blog. I don’t know why I didn’t think of advertising his idea here, I guess because I really don’t enjoy seeing this pictures yet or thinking of what has been….but nonetheless I think his initiative is brilliant and essential for recuperating and assimilating our recent past …after all that is what we used to be and makes us what we are today.

You can check Igu’s blog from now on clicking right hand in the blogroll under @Past… and I highly recommend it if you are interested and want to understand how it used to be under communism. The site is in Romanian, nonetheless the images are quite helpful.


March 10, 2007

Romanian Traditions

Filed under: Romanian symbols,Romanian traditions — darian @ 11:11 pm

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The Day of the 40 Holy Martyrs

Bucharest – The Romanian popular tradition and the Orthodox religion are celebrating today The Day of the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebastia, one of the most beloved holidays nationwide. This holiday of a very old origin used to celebrate the beginning of the Agrarian Year, which marked the official conclusion of winter and the beginning of spring. As an agrarian holiday dedicated to earth, homemakers are preparing eight-shaped bagels symbolising the season cycles. These bagels known as “mucenici” are brought by women to Church in the morning to be hallowed by the priest.

The “mucenici” are then given to the faithful together with a candle lit for the souls of the deceased. There is the belief that on this day the souls of the dead are released on Earth to join their loved ones who are alive to enjoy this holiday together. This is also the day when, as tradition goes, people should drink 40 or 44 glasses of red wine, which will turn into blood during the year, making the drinker strong and healthy. Everybody is supposed to drink the wine, and those who don’t should at least have a taste of it or let themselves sprinkled with wine. Although the number of wineglasses that should be drunk corresponds to the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebasteia, the custom goes back to ancient Bachian holidays celebrated on the day of the spring equinox.

On this particular day, in villages especially, the youth gather in groups and light big fires on hills with the purpose of driving the evil spirits away, since there is the belief that early spring is propitious for witch-crafters and for those invoking malefic forces.

It is around those fires that “mucenici” and many wine-full glasses are placed on tables, for the souls of the dead that come to the feast. At the same time, “all houses are purified with holy water, as are the animals in homesteads, since people would believe that evil spirits are driven away and they take refuge in the remote corners of the home and in animal stables.

by George Grigoriu

Source: Nine O’Clock Newspaper – http://www.nineoclock.ro

Photo from http://www.orthodoxphotos.com

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