Romanian Living Blog
An expats working, socialising and living blog of thoughts and adventures delved within Bucharest and further afield in this alluring yet often baffling country.
RLB 7: Holiday joy; A Parade, Parties and Opening-Closing Doors
Time period: 30th November 24th December 2016
The start of this month greeted me with a mini and much needed vacation, the 30th November in Romania is a celebratory day but the reason for which escapes me, the following day the 1st December is Romania’s National day I believe to celebrate unification and independence.
This year it just happened that the day after the 1st was a Friday and as such the school calendar factored this in so no schooling was afoot. With the weekend also making itself present a nice 5 day holiday bestowed itself to many people in Romania. During this time many people took short trips to the mountains or further afield for city breaks.
Questions at this time from colleagues, friends, students formulated asking: ”What are your plans?” Where are you going?” ”What are you doing?” my reply was ”Nothing, I am not sure, I have no plans”.
This may seem a boring answer but after the intensity and arduousness of the previous 2 months I was thrilled by the thought of having time to relax and to be lazy. And indeed I was rather lazy but the best feeling was not having to worry or overthink, my mind was allowed to be free and clear of work related worries that subsequently burden consciousness.
Plus with the added free time I was able to catch up with certain things such as; sleep, neglected ironing, a TV episode or 2 and most blissfully the opportunity to read and write.
Although it was a lazy-ish time for me friends were still met, sport was still played and sights were seen. The grand sight seen so to speak is not a regular feat to be witnessed in Bucharest, from my understanding it occurs just once a year; I am divulging about a parade. This parade takes place naturally on Romania’s national day to celebrate the occasion.
The location for the event had changed this year, previous years the parade marched by the Palace of the Parliament (Casa Poporului); a new location however was selected this year; a freshly renovated Arcul de Triumf proudly showcased itself as centre stage for the parade.
Well I slightly missed the main parade as there was some confusion regarding the start time but I caught a glimpse into what the parade offered; military vehicles rolled on by, smartly dressed military personal marched with precision and similar other services such as the fire and police crews proudly demonstrated themselves also.
The parade was enjoyable enough to witness, there was a humble and relaxed atmosphere amongst the crowd; flags were being waved proudly, children resting easily on weary parent’s shoulders and smiling faces were broadcast despite the gentle winter weather making itself noticeable.
Once the parade had ceased the crowd departed its various ways; similarly I made my way but a slight surprise awaited me as I walked away. Along a certain street military vehicles could be seen stretching themselves along the temporarily pedestrianised road.
These vehicles were parked up for the enjoyment of being seen by the departing crowd, by enjoyment I mean pictures could have been taken, military soldiers spoken to and most wonderfully of all was the opportunity to climb on/in/under the multitude of military automobiles.
I thought this was a very nice and intriguing offering from the organisers to allow such a thing to happen, I of course allowed my inner child to be free and also climbed upon a few menacing looking machines.
Post mini vacation break work resumed, although less work was being undertaken than before with certain corporate classes being completed. My Romanian classes also came to an end meaning a less intense schedule was apparent; however there is an expression: “When one door shuts another opens”, certainly this became evident for me as work ended in one place new work was offered elsewhere.
A conversational Sunday workshop course was undertaken which was slightly challenging with a mixture of ages and abilities taking part in the workshop but despite this I had a great time and it’s a flexible course with how often I complete a session per the month.
Another work opportunity also came out of the blue, I was contacted by an agency that send trainers to clients to see if I was interested in working with themselves in such a position. I was intrigued and flattered by the offer but thought with being so busy in previous months that I would decline.
Yet I went along for an initial discussion and interview which was soon followed by a short demonstration lesson, which was soon followed by a job offer which was soon followed by me being offered my 1st client; proceeding this was some training/introduction meetings and finally me venturing into my 1st couple of lessons.
All of this occurred maybe within two to three weeks, I guess I must have impressed with my demo lesson and interview skills. I will admit going into my 1st lesson I was rather nervous as it is a one on one lesson requested by the client, although these nerves were not warranted as the 1st couple of lessons have been highly relaxed yet productive at the same time.
Away from work and other such things on the night of the 5th December a special seasonal holiday tradition takes place. In Romanian I believe it known as Moş Nicolae or more commonly referred to in the West as Saint Nicholas’ Day.
I won’t harbour on about the traditions of Saint Nick as most people are aware the details but essentially on the night of the 5th children are supposed to clean and/or polish a shoe which they then leave by the front door.
By the morning of the 6th if the children have been well behaved the previous months/year they will awake to find their shoe filled with delightful gifts such as sweets, small toys, a teddy bear or even an iPhone as one child informed me.
On the opposite of this if the children have been less than well behaved they receive a stick which is meant as a way to beat them, of course this being the modern somewhat civilized world it is forbidden to beat children. I don’t know if in the past children were beaten with sticks but most of the children I asked had never received a stick, one child said yes but I think it was meant as a joke.
As I do not have children I did not encourage any such shoes to be left by a door but what was delightful to witness at the language centre I work at was the children’s sheer enthusiasm and excitement for this tradition; as they spoke and informed me about the customs of the day and what they received they conveyed their message with such passion. The children spoke with a tender shrill, their bright eyes gleamed and faces protruded such wonder and amusement as they beamed joyfully what Saint Nick had left for them.
It’s easy to forget that children are still children with the sheer amount of pressures, homework, extracurricular activities they have in this fast paced modern world. Especially here in a city such as Bucharest but this amiable holiday reminded me certainly of this message which I was thoroughly delighted about.
With December bringing a lot of holidays and with Christmas on the horizon there was a relaxed and less stressful atmosphere in most of my work places. As Christmas comes Christmas parties tend to pop up also, within a week I experienced two very differing parties.
The 1st was a rather grand and big occasion, the event took place at Vatra Neamului maybe 30 minutes from Bucharest, luckily as many people were going to the event a coach was organised to take the late afternoon early evenings participants.
Upon arrival at the highly lit location drinks were made available almost immediately, from this point the drinks didn’t stop coming, after a while food was also made available. The huge round tables occupying the attendees suddenly filled with plates of all sorts of Romanian food, this food stayed for around three hours before making way for the main course.
Although with the onset of continuous drinks being made available my mind somewhat escapes me of what the main dish was. Although I remember an abundance of meat and some potatoes. Dessert came far too late, actually as the night was haltering and the bus was preparing to depart on its return journey some rather bland looking sponge settled itself on the vastly emptying tables.
During the evening secret Santa also occurred which I begrudgingly took part in and with which I still have no idea who I left my present for. In return I received a DVD which was thoughtful but alas receiving a DVD as the format is heavily dying is a little questionable.
Away from Secret Santa as mentioned a lot of alcohol was made available and much food was also presented, another thing that occurred plentifully was a myriad of dancing; from traditional Romanian dancing, to modern interpretations of songs and a few surprise performances also. I somehow managed to escape the dancing but occupied myself with the drinking. Overall the party was an intriguing, somewhat strange but amusing event to be a part of.
I had heard that this type of event is similar to a Romanian wedding but as I have not been to a classical Romanian wedding I can’t comment, however should you find yourself invited to such an event prepare yourself for much dancing, drinking and divulging in food.
The 2nd party was much smaller, more humble and more relaxed than the 1st with the evening taking place at Gilda Music Lounge it was more intimate with less participants. The venue was modern, cool with a nice vibe, great food, amazing cocktails and featuring entertaining to dubious music. I had a great evening and although to begin with I was reluctant to dance I was soon swaying around demonstrating my entertaining to dubious dance moves.
The two parties’ were highly contrasting but both unique and memorable in their own ways, I guess diversification makes life more interesting to behold.
Until the next time…..
“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” (Elbert Hubbard)