Romanian Christmas & New Year traditions
Vector illustration project dedicated to the magical Christmas and New Year caroling traditions in Romania, which are still performed in the countryside.
A very important part of the Christmas festivities in Romania is caroling – colindatul, a tradition that goes back to Medieval Times. Romanian Christmas carols use tunes that vary according to their region of origin, most of them glorifying the birth of Jesus. On Christmas Eve, groups of children, especially those in the villages, go from door to door singing beautiful Romanian carols. As compensation, carollers used to receive pretzels, cookies, apples, and nuts or fruits. Nowadays they receive money. Vector illustration inspired by Romanian folk art and costume from Maramures.
On Christmas Day carollers (boys only) walk through the streets of villages holding a large wooden star – Steaua, a symbol for the Bethlehem Star. The star displays an image of the Nativity, and it is wrapped up in aluminum foil and coloured paper, adorned with bells and colourful ribbons attached to the end of a stick. They sing The Star Carol, an old carol dedicated to the Birth of Christ. As compensation, carollers used to receive pretzels, cookies, apples, and nuts or fruits. Nowadays they receive money.
In the countryside, the caroling also includes dancing performances, like the Goat and the Bear dances – mersul cu capra și cu ursul. Men and boys with drums and brass instruments wander through villages playing the traditional Goat Song and Bear Song, as one man – dressed in a stylized goat or bear costume – performs a ritualic dance. These animals symbolize the evil forces that people want to chase away from the village in the New Year that is coming. The performers make loud noises intended to scare away the evil forces. Unlike the goat, walking with the bear is a New Year tradition that is practiced only in Moldova Region.
Vector illustration project created in Adobe Illustrator, on Wacom Cintiq tablet, mixing modern and vintage aesthetics: flat colour, block shading, grain textures, realistic and stylized shapes.