Romania’s New Year Stamps Celebrate Ancient New Year Traditions

11 Jan 2017  Wed

On 21st December 2016, Romania issued new stamps featuring New Year traditions that are followed by the country since ancient times. The 2.20-leu stamp features the Plugusorul, which translates to “little plough.” In this ancient tradition, people walk from one house to the other on New Year’s Day playing musical instruments. They sing a song wishing for a prosperous year, bread, fruit, or money. The songs are accompanied with cracking, ringing bells, and sounds of an instrument that sounds like an oxen’s mooing.

The 2.50-leu stamp celebrates a musical tradition of the country called buhai which translates to “bull”. On the New Year’s Eve, friction drums are played making loud sounds from one house to the other in this tradition.

The bear dance is featured on the 8 lei, and the goat dance on the 15 lei. The bear dance is based on a pre-Christian tradition to keep bad spirits at bay and pray for the sun to stay longer in the sky. Traditional costumes are worn by a group of people during New Year’s Eve who sings carols from house to house. Moldavia has a same kind of ritual called as the ‘bear’s dance”. Costumes made of bearskin are worn by young men. They, along with musicians and drummers walk through every street striking their whips in the air. They are asked to perform the ‘bear’s dance’ in personal gardens as part of a fertility rite. The goat dance symbolises death or the old year and rebirth or the New Year. This traditional dance is accompanied by a flute player.

The sorcova branch is depicted on Romfilatelia’s official first-day covers for the stamps. This stick decorated with flowers looks like a magic wand.