Christmas in Moldova – Customs and Traditions

Christmas in Moldova is characterized by both Orthodox and Christian traditions.

Moldova is a country that is known to keep traditions and customs. Over the years they have maintained the concept of family.  Christmas in Moldova is celebrated twice, on December 25th and January 7th.

This is more common around Moldova because there are Orthodox Christians as well as Catholics. The country is usually in a festive mood as soon as the month of December approaches. You will find that people in various parts of the country begin their Christmas decorations and the Christmas spirit is everywhere.

The common Christmas markets are where you will find some of the traditional dishes and the items that you can purchase for decoration and souvenirs. The locals celebrate both Christmas dates in style and you should not be left behind when you visit the region.

Christmas celebrations in Moldova

The Christmas period in Moldova is very unique and depending on the region there are some traditions that are unique to this country as well as those that have been adopted from the western countries. The churches in Moldova celebrate Christmas dates in both the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Both the Julian and the Gregorian calendars continue to exist in the country and people often embrace them.

Christmas in Moldova has different traditions and customs that have been observed over the years and you will find that the local people are conserving their traditions. On Christmas night the people from youth to adults will go from one house to another where they will spread the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ. 

The people in the region recognize the importance of this date and they are known to maintain these traditions for centuries now.  Traditionally, you will find people from one location to another baking pies. These pies were baked by women across the region and it is a resemblance of the birth and renewal.  

Placinte and cookies are more common as well during this Christmas period. The children will sing Christmas carols, recite poems, and participate in nativity scenes which makes the holiday season festive. 

The tradition is that the carol singers will visit the houses until the first star is seen in the sky. This marks the end of the singing and recital of poems because it is believed that the star marks a new day and this is Christmas when Jesus was born. The singers are usually rewarded in various forms and you will find that they receive sweets, candies, among others.

Christmas Entertainment in Moldova

The Christmas traditions in Moldova kick off in style and you are going to see some of the most exceptional features in the region. The Christmas entertainment in the region varies from one region to another. The Christmas markets and theatres in the major cities usually thrive and you will find people singing as well as participating in some of the folk song recitals and dances. 

The folk ensembles are unique because they maintain a Moldovan tradition that dates back centuries now. You can see them in action and you can reward them with money and other treats. It is important to note that famous singers around the country, as well as those from abroad, usually perform during this period.

Rural Christmas traditions and customs in Moldova

The people in the rural areas of Moldova still maintain the culture and traditions of the country. The values that these people preserve are some of the most unique Christmas traditions that you will find in modern Europe. 

The folk art, picturesque landscape, and the spectacle of the Christmas holiday are some of the most unique features that you are going to find in rural Moldova. Moldovan people are the best at entertainment and you will learn some of the traditional songs that are far much more popular in this region. 

St. Nicholas Day in Moldova

You might think that St. Nicholas Day is a tradition common in Western and Northern Europe. However, Moldova is one of the countries that usually observe this tradition as well. It is important to note that St. Nicholas was a saint who helped children hence he is known to bring gifts to children.

The holiday is usually observed on December 6th and during this period people from different parts of the country converge at their homes to celebrate the Christmas period. The young ones in the family usually clean their shoes and place them near the Christmas tree or the fireplace. In some parts of Moldova, they put them on the window.

They believe that St. Nicholas will put presents into these shoes and this is common for children who were well-behaved in the previous year. Naughty young children are often given twigs as a warning for them to change their behaviors. Once this practice is over, women around the country will take over the Christmas preparations and this will include cooking traditional meals and cleaning the house. 

The males in the house are tasked with looking for the best Christmas tree which is often either a spruce or a fir. The local people, especially in rural Moldova, will go to the forests and choose the best tree for their Christmas.

St. Ignatius Day in Moldova

This is a unique tradition mostly observed in Moldova. The day is celebrated on December 20th and this is marked by the slaughtering of the pig. Ideally, the local farmers believe that after this day the animal will not get any fatter, therefore, they usually slaughter the pig on this day. 

The Moldovans who observe this culture will get the blood dry, ground it, and it is used throughout the year by the children as it is thought to bring good luck charms and good tidings in the new year. Depending on the region, there are people who are fasting during this period. If they are not fasting, they will get to enjoy the delicious steak served with sauerkraut and polenta.

Christmas Eve in Moldova

The Moldovans are known to take their Christmas preparations and traditions seriously. On Christmas Eve a band of carolers and children who like to sing will move from one location to another as they sing and recite poems. Groups of young children will move from house to house as they sing the Christmas carols and recite the poems.

These children are often given gifts, such as candies and sweets, and in other cases people give them money. The money is often used in purchasing Christmas presents. These children will go from house to house wishing them happy holidays. 

The older boys will walk with a goat and this is largely rooted in the rural traditions around Moldova. Since the Roman tradition considers the goat as an evil animal, however in Moldova they usually carry out the goat dance which is a tradition that promotes fertility and a bumper harvest in the coming year.

There are other areas of Moldova where the goat dance is associated with pagan traditions where the person will dress like a goat and they will jump, jerk, and even merry dance like a goat. It is an illustration of death and rebirth which symbolizes the start of a new cycle.

Christmas cooking in Moldova

On Christmas Eve, it is not only a day for the goat dance, but you will find people from different parts of the country, especially women and girls participating in cooking.

In Moldova, they bake colacs which are shaped like number 8 and they are usually hung near icons. The local people call it “crăciunei” and they play an important role in the Moldovan tradition where people believe in rebirth and renewal. The colacs are taken off in March during the vernal equinox. 

It is a custom in Moldova to prepare twelve meal courses and it is believed that this is in tandem with the number of disciples that Jesus had.

Christmas Eve dinner in Moldova

Once the family members have participated in various activities of the day such as cooking and looking for a Christmas tree, they will gather at the dinner table. This is a common practice where you can find different dishes prepared during the day on the family tables around the country.

Some of the common dishes include pie with hemp seeds, dried prunes, and pumpkins. It is a common tradition to find that young women will put empty water jugs in front of their porches and whoever gets the jug is their predestined partner. 

Christmas Day in Moldova

On Christmas Day, the country is full of festive activities and you will find that the Christians will attend Christmas mass in the morning before they can begin their celebrations.

Some of the dishes eaten during this period are liver-based sausages, cabbage rolls, caltabosi, sweets, and leavened bread. It is a tradition that once the people have finished eating dinner, they will leave the remains on the table untouched. This is important because they allow their departed loved ones to enjoy their Christmas as well and it will give them a plentiful year in the coming months.

Epiphany in Moldova

The day of Epiphany or the Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 6th and you will find some of the unique dishes that are commonly prepared during this time alone. Twelve kinds of fasting courses must be consecrated by the priest. In most cases, you will find people sprinkle them with water that has been consecrated by the priest.

Some of the dishes that are eaten during this period include cabbage pies, boiled grains, boiled plums, smoked fish, and fried fish colacs among others.

Let’s learn more about the Christmas traditions in this region:

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.