We are already half way into the month of August, which means summer is close to ending.
In Romania, the traditional name of “August” is “Gustar”, which could be translated as “tasty”. This is the period of the year when most of the fruits and vegetables are mature and we can all be delighted by their flavors. Also, this month is full of specific Romanian traditions and superstitions. We would like to share some of these with you!
The most important Christian religious fests celebrated this month are the “Transfiguration of Christ” (rom. “Schimbarea la față”) on August 6th, the “Assumption of Holy Mary” (rom. “Adormirea Maicii Domnului”) on August 15th and the “Beheading of Saint John the Baptist” (rom. “Taierea capului Sf. Ioan Botezatorul”) on August 29th. Each of these is also connected with local traditions.
The 6th of August is said to be the first day of autumn, being the boundary between the hot summer days and the colder days to follow. Beware, if one doesn’t respect this celebration, he will be punished with different diseases. However, if the weather is sunny and pleasant it means that the autumn will be wealthy.
During the first half of this month there is the fasting for the Virgin Mary celebration on 15th of August. It is said that originally, the Easter fasting was set for nine weeks, but because that was the poorest period of the year, two of those weeks have been moved to the end of the summer, when all the natural aliments are mature and ready to be harvested.
On the morning of August 15th, religious women go to church with fruits and delicacies that they that they will give it to charity in honor of the dead ones. Another superstition says that if the roses bloom, the autumn will be long. This is the day when people start to harvest their vineyards, to beat the nut trees so they have fruits and this is the last day in which one can collect healing plants.
As a tip, for staying healthy until the next harvest, you should eat baked corn.
Another preserved custom in many regions of the country is to leave the door open before dawn so Virgin Mary can come in and bless your house. The shepherds bring their sheep down from the mountains, men change their hat with fur caps while the stags spoil the rivers, making them inaccessible for bathing, all of these pointing towards the end of the summer.
On August 15th, Romania also celebrates the Navy Day, Holy Mary being the protector of sailors. Not only the day has been declared a national holiday, but at the Black Sea shore, as well as in most Danube cities, there are both large festivals and tiny, diverse fairs organized.
In the traditional Romanian villages, an important season of weddings opens on 15th of August, season that lasts until the Christmas Fast.
On 29th of August one shall not eat grapes or drink wine because those are associated with the blood of John the Baptist. Also you should not eat round fruits or vegetables that could remind of his head. This day everything you eat you could cut by hand not using a knife. The tradition says that John was a good young man, nowadays being the symbol of the martyrs and missionaries. He was a follower of Jesus Christ and so he became a threat for Irod, the king of Judea. When the birthday of Irod was close, Salomeea, the woman that drove him crazy, promised she will dance for him with only one condition: that she will receive John’s head on a silver plate as a reward. Unable to resist her beauty, Irod fulfilled his lovers wish and beheaded John, burying his body and his head in different places, so John could not resurrect.
So, this is August with lots of religious celebrations, traditions, customs and superstitions. Stories and legends that keep our mind opened for learning and understanding our past.
Looking towards the future, parents usually spend these last weeks of summer with their little ones, soon to get ready for school.
Farewell, dear summer!