Travelers to Europe in past years did not often
include Romania in their itinerary, and the difficulties of today make
such a trip impossible. But this year at Christmas thousands of
Romania's sons and daughters in other lands remember the festivities
they once enjoyed—whether they came from Bucharest, Oradea, Timisoara,
or some tiny community that cannot be found on a map.
They speak of the delicious "Turta," the special cake made for "Nosterea
Domnului Isus" (Christmas Eve). Its thin coats of rolled dough
represented the swaddling clothes of the Christ Child. The dough was
made the night before, and it was the custom for father and mother to
take it out into the garden. Father then would go from tree to tree
threatening to cut each one down—and mother would try to prevent him
from touching the tree each time, saying, "Spare this tree, for next
year it will be as heavy with fruit as my fingers are with dough."
The men remember how as boys they went from house to house on Christmas
night singing carols and reciting poems. Old legends were told and
retold. They carried a "Steaua," a wooden star covered with gilt or
decorated with colored paper, on a long pole. The star framed a picture
of the Nativity. Sometimes bells and ribbons were used to make the
Steaua even more beautiful. And when the lighted candle was placed
inside, everyone said it looked like a heavenly lantern.