Christmas in Romania is one of the most traditionally filled holidays in Romania. The Christmas traditions in Romania are very old and they date back hundreds of years ago. People here enjoy the traditional Christmas celebrations or embrace the modern traditions borrowed from the West. 

These customs might vary from one place to another in the country. During the communist era, Christmas was banished in Romania, however, after the fall of the Soviet Republic, people in the country began embracing different features of Christmas and rekindled their ancient traditions.  Some of the common terms that you will hear in the region include winter celebrations and Old Man Frost.

People during Christmas festivities cook traditional dishes, sing Christmas carols, and celebrate with dances and feasting. There is a wide array of customs that you are going to learn during your visit to Romania. Some of the traditions will bring a sense of familiarity while others will leave you in awe.

Christmas customs and traditions in Romania

There is a unique feeling that the Christmas period usually brings, especially in Romania. Christmas magic fills the air during the Christmas season, and it is a time for love, respect, family gathering, and giving each other gifts.

Christmas in Romania is usually celebrated on December 25th just like other Western countries. However, there are Orthodox Christians in the country and therefore there is a high chance that you will find that some celebrate it on January 6th. Here are some of the common Christmas customs and traditions in Romania.

Postul Crāciunului

This is what is commonly called Christmas fasting and most of the people in the country practice Eastern Orthodox traditions. The people in these regions are usually very religious, and they will begin the Christmas fasting on November 14th. 

This fasting period usually ends on Christmas day, and it lasts for forty days. The essence of this holiday is to bring people closer to their religious values and traditions.

Some of the common things that happen during this period include confessing, fasting, and having the Holy Communion. Fasting in this region during the period means that you cannot consume eggs, meat, or any dairy products. 

While the fasting period will last for six weeks many people around the country are very serious about it, and you will find that they follow this tradition to the latter.

Mos Niculae

This is one of the most important features in the Christmas traditions of the Romanian people. The arrival of St. Nicholas is one of the most critical points because it marks the beginning of the Christmas season. It is one of the most awaited traditions in the region and you will find that young adults and children cannot wait for this period to begin.

On December 6th, St. Nicholas usually visits households and during this period he will give gifts to children who behaved well during the past year. Some of the common presents that you are going to find prevalent in the region include sweets, candies, and fruits.

On the other hand, the children who misbehave are usually punished by St. Nicholas. The reprimand comes in the form of gifting them twigs instead of candies and sweets. On December 5th the children across the country usually prepare for this day and you will find them cleaning and doing all manner of things while waiting for St. Nicholas.

Usually, they will shine their shoes and place them on the window, and when St. Nicholas passes around they place candies or sweets. The presents from St. Nicholas are usually small and they are symbolic in nature. However, the children usually enjoy them very much and you will find that they are waiting for the next visit from St. Nicholas.

Tāierea porcului / Slaughtering of the pig

This is a common tradition that you are going to find many people in the country who involve the slaughtering of the pig just as the name indicates. The Romanians love their pork, and it is for this reason that you will find that they consume a lot of pork during the Christmas season.

There are various pork dishes that people eat during this period. The most important event of the period is the slaughtering of the pig. While the ritual might seem somewhat gruesome to some people, it is worth noting that this is a tradition that has been around for centuries. The purpose of killing the animal is not for entertainment purposes but it is for feeding the family and community.

Learn more: Dangerous animals in Romania

You will find many people in rural Romania still practicing this tradition. While in urban areas this tradition has begun diminishing, people still consume a lot of pork products during this period. The ceremony usually begins with the sacrifice of the animal, and this continues with the cutting of meat as well as the melting of fat.

It is important to understand that the local people use almost every part of the animal, and the guts are used in making sausages. During the preparation period, the male members of the family will help with the slaughtering while females will prepare other delicacies in making the feast.

Christmas tree decoration in Romania

This practice is most common in all parts of Romania. It gives you a unique sensation because you clearly know that Christmas is here once people begin their Christmas tree decorations.

In the urban areas of Romania, you will find that the people usually purchase the tree on Christmas Eve, and it is decorated by younger members of the family. It is essential to note that the Christmas tree will stay on until January 7th. The Christmas decorations vary from one region to another, you will mostly find lights, and a star at the top.

Christmas Eve in Romania

During Christmas Eve in Romania, the people in different parts of the country usually participate in the preparation of various dishes and decorations for Christmas.

It is a night when Santa Claus or Mos Craciun usually arrives at their homes, and it is a perfect day for them to receive presents from Santa Claus. During this day you will find that most children are usually awake as they wait for Santa to bring them presents. 

Santa is often characterized by large white beards, a red cloth, and elves, his helpers. When he arrives, he usually places the presents under the Christmas tree. When it comes to the Catholics and other Christians in the country you will find that some of them will go to the midnight mass that is often carried out around the parishes in the country.

Christmas carols in Romania

This is the most important part of the Christmas tradition in Romania. You are going to find that the people in Romania usually enjoy singing during the Christmas period. The tradition of singing during the Christmas period goes back to medieval times therefore there is a high chance that you might hear some of the most unique songs during this period. 

The Romanians are huge fans of the Christmas carols, and they are known to glorify the birth of Jesus Christ. In modern society, these carols have evolved, and you will find that people will gather in groups as they enjoy the songs.

The children in the villages will often move from one door to another as they are singing these Christmas carols. It is a common tradition that people reward them with sweets, candies, or even money. Many of them will use the money to purchase Christmas presents.

Steaua or the star carol is a major indicator of Christmas caroling and depending on the area of the country that you are visiting you are going to find different cultures and traditions. The star displays an image of a nativity, and it is usually wrapped in colorful ribbons, bells, and aluminum foil.


While people are performing Christmas carols, it is critical to note that the goat usually comes up during this period. The people will dance and perform rituals that are in tandem with medieval traditions.

You will see that the men and boys will have brass instruments and drums and they wander from one place to another playing the ancient Roman. The person who is stylized as a goat will perform the goat dance. In addition to the goat costumes, there are other common costumes that you are likely to find in the region and these include bears and horses.

These animals are often used symbolically as the evil forces that the people are chasing away during this Christmas period.

Christmas dishes in Romania

This is one of the most awaited times of the year and the people usually come together as they feast on food and drinks that they prepared during Christmas Eve. The meals are usually served on multiple courses, and you are going to have an exceptional time as you get to enjoy some of the traditional dishes that are only found in this part of the world.

Once the people have attended the Christmas mass they will often gather around the table, and this is a time for feasting, drinking, and merrymaking. Christmas day begins at 5 am for many households during Christmas day and this will begin with the preparation of traditional cozonac which is a sweet and sponge-like cake that is filled with cocoa and nuts.

The day will progress with the preparation of various pork dishes, and it is a perfect time for you to explore some of the unique dishes in the region. The most common pork dishes that you are going to find during this period include greaves, jelled pork, sausages, and ham.

It is critical to note that no Romanian Christmas is complete with sarmale which are cabbage rolls paid with hot polenta and sour cream, hot peppers a glass of palinka.

Christmas dinner in Romania features things such as smoked pork knuckle, beef, rice, and other jelly dishes. It is important to note that the Romanians usually consume wines and other drinks, especially tuica which is a traditional drink that has over 40% alcohol and is made from plums. After eating people will enjoy their time with friends and family.

Paganism and Christmas in Romania

One of the most unique features of the country is that the pagan traditions of Christmas and that of Christians have been blended well. One of the most common traditions is ignat which is often celebrated on December 20th. This has been merged with the Romanian Christmas practices of St. Ignatius.

January 6th in Romania

The celebration on this day is in tandem with the Orthodox Christmas traditions. It is a fun-filled day that people will celebrate just like the regular Christmas, and you will find people savoring some of the delicacies in the area as they enjoy their drinks.

Now that you know more about the Christmas traditions in Romania, let’s learn more about Christmas in its neighboring countries:

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.