Latest posts by Lorena Boandă (see all)
- New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Romania - December 28, 2017
- Christmas Traditions and Customs in Romania - December 20, 2017
- St. Andrew’s Day – the Story Behind Romanian Halloween - November 29, 2017
On November 30th, Romanians celebrate the annual Day of St. Andrew, also known as a… “Romanian Halloween”. St. Andrew has been a long-time disciple of St. John the Baptist (who baptized Jesus). He was also the one who was first called on to recognize Messiah, and since then he became famous as the “first called”. It is also believed that St. Andrew had a holy gift to undo human sins.
After the Savior was crucified, the saints drew slots to choose the areas where they will go to spread Christianity. St. Apostle Andrew has received the Scynthia area (now Dobrogea in Romania). He traveled widely in the Balkan peninsula (around modern Turkey) before finally reaching his designated region.
Stories from the villagers’ imagination
There are numerous stories about St. Andrew – some are true, some are grossly exaggerated. Though all of them are so interesting that they will make you want to believe anything.
One of the most common legends states that St. Andrew was a master of wild animals since he was a shepherd before he became an Apostle. In fact, it is widely believed that he was appointed by God to feed the wolves. So every year on his birthday, he started sacrificing some cattle, which belonged to those who didn’t respect the feast (the feast of St. Andrew). That’s why his second unofficial name is “The Apostle of The Wolves”.
There are countless stories connected to the celebration of St. Andrew’s Day. According to one tale, on this day wolves can become stronger, they are filled with more energy, and can twist their throat in an unnatural way. They also become more attentive to their immediate surroundings. For hundreds of years Romanians believed that on this day “wolves can see their tails.”
What are Romanians forbidden to do on November 30th?
On St Andrew’s Day, Romanians are not allowed to sweep the floors, to clean the stables, to throw the garbage, or to scrape anything. They are not even allowed to comb their hair, and by no means should they donate any money or borrow anything. Women must not sew, otherwise nothing good awaits them during the next year.
These “rules” stem from the old belief in the… wolves. If people were to do housework, wolves would have an opportunity to get closer to them. But if they were to respect the feast, St. Andrew would keep them safe and no wolf could hurt them.
Moreover, Romanians must be extra careful, since during that particular night, the wolves can start… talking. No one should listen to them, otherwise the listener would die. Many believe that the Heavens open every year at midnight on St. Andrew’s Day.
In addition, wolves can descend from the mountains and gather in a pack of twelve. People are usually afraid to pronounce the word “wolf” during that day, since the animals might remember that and come over again during the next year. Also, they try not to eat anything on November 30th. It is believed that if a Romanian could hold a fast on this day, many of his or her wishes about marriage and/or health would come true.
St. Andrew’s Day is one of the most interesting and mysterious holidays in Romania. Besides the fact that many celebrate their name on that day (those who are called Andrei, Andreea, Adrian, Adriana), people are just happy to respect this ancient tradition.
Also, right after the St Andrew’s Day there’s the December 1st, the National Day of Romania. So we actually celebrate two holidays in a row!
Next, we’ll talk about some really creepy places connected to the holiday of St. Andrew, so stay tuned!