Romanian Culture

Romanian Culture

From rural dwellers to keepers of a centuries-old tradition, Romanian people are identified with intangible cultural heritage. Society’s adherence to the blessings of the earth in the countryside resulted in a deep-rooted rural culture. The fabric of it is woven with the tales of giants, witches, spirits, and fairies roaming the forests. As for everyday life, this heritage manifests in a variety of practices such as weaving, herding, and carpentry.

You will find Romanian culture to be built on the concepts of patriarchy, family, and community. Family ties are essential to a healthy society. This means that the core values of the Romanian people were shaped by hospitality and benevolence. You will be welcome in society not as an outsider but as a guest.

Art and music are as raw as they were centuries ago, remaining at the forefront of cultural expression in Romania. Folk art constitutes the main artistic scene, in which visuals from rural Romania are the main elements. This is perhaps the strongest character trait of the country: stylized drawings of animals, natural scenes in the woods, and highly ornamental geometric designs. Folk singing, ballads, and pastoral tunes accompany visual arts, presenting not only a wide variety of local instruments but also homegrown stories about the most unique sides of Romanian culture.

Romanian culture
Romanian culture

Eating & Drinking

“Romanian cuisine is the primary cultural element that locals are proud of, and it is for a reason. Keeping a strong character with all the Ottoman, Balkan, and European influences, the entire culinary tradition is simply magnificent.”

Blending centuries-old cooking habits of the Balkan and more uncharted techniques, Romanian food is as deep-rooted as innovative. It has an entire section of holiday dishes dedicated to the fascinating special days celebrated on the land. The major influencers of Romanian food are Hungarian, Eastern European, Ottoman, and Turkish cuisines. Maize and potatoes are the staples, followed by local ingredients like cereals and dairy products. The marvelous appetizers you will get to enjoy today entered the picture during the Ottoman era You will see that home-cooked meals are very different than restaurant meals, usually consisting of pot meals made with oil and juicy vegetables. In restaurants, however, meat dishes accompanied by appetizers are common.

From sour soups to hearty meat stews and traditional bread, there are many signature elements in Romanian cuisine. Some popular dishes are a variety of meat seasoned with spices and grilled, such as mice and carnati. The heart of Romanian desserts is local dairy products of the highest quality. Papanasi and cozonac are two of them, popular especially during the holiday season. Iconic Romanian dishes are too numerous to be counted. Other than the main dishes, Romania has a wide selection of sauces and pickles. In the Romanian countryside, it has been a tradition to prepare for winter by stocking up on homemade breakfast sauces and tomato pastes as well as a variety of pickles. These will not only spice up your culinary experience but also make excellent gifts to bring home.

The wide Balkan region boasts some of the most unique liquors in the world, and Romania is a strong contributor. Tuica, the country’s original plum brandy, is not only a national pride but also an exhilarating liquor internationally loved. Also worth trying is Romanian wine made of a variety of local grapes.

Unique Crafts & Shopping

From Dracula souvenirs to traditional food, things to buy in Romania are a dime a dozen. Take home a bottle of the national drink, Țuică, and boundless pleasure is guaranteed for your loved ones. Or, choose a more unusual gift—the aromatic Royal jelly. Romanian culture also finds the soul in handwoven fabrics in myriad products, from tablecloths to napkins and carpets to bedspreads.

One of the most iconic gifts to buy in Romania is the Horezu ceramics. Painted in brick red and blue oriental patterns, these ceramics constitute the most delicate handcraft produced in Romania. Wooden carved items are equally traditional and fascinating, having been a vital part of Romanian culture for centuries. Every single one of these is handmade. When in Transylvania, the theme of most souvenirs is naturally the one and only Dracula. Most of them are slightly tacky, still, you will find some items worthy of buying if you search the authentic shops. More aesthetically pleasing souvenirs are hand-painted eggs, which are part of a Romanian tradition that dates back to the oldest Easters spent in Transylvania. Bucharest is perfect if you wish to shop for handcrafted fashion items, such as iconic beads and wool clothing.

  • Takeaway: Romanian markets are already quite cheap. But if you are looking for the cultural experience of bargaining, you can try it with joy in the farmer’s markets. Bucharest is in fact one of the best countries in Europe for bargain shopping.
Romanian culture

Religion & Etiquette

Romania is one of the most religious countries in Europe, although it is a secular state by law. The majority of the population consists of Romanian Orthodox Christians, the rest being a mix of Protestants and Roman Catholics. Religious heritage in the country has everything to do with the ethnic origins of individuals. Religious beliefs are beyond cultural, influencing every layer of society and everyday life. Hierarchy exists in Romanian society based on age and position—elders are always treated with respect. Family is the core of society, symbolizing stability and assistance for the health of social dynamics. Patriarchy exists in almost all parts of Romanian communities.

Some delicate issues that require extra attention include covering your mouth while yawning and avoiding commentary on the country’s communist past. Romanians are very sensitive when it comes to national identity. Don’t make statements assuming that Romanian culture is the same as the surrounding Eastern European countries. When interacting with locals in rural Romania, it is good to know that even strangers greet each other. Punctuality is somewhat important, especially on private dinners and house visits. And, although tips are not required, it is always good to leave a 10% tip if you are satisfied with the service.

Festivals & Events

“The festive traditions of Romania are intangible, reinventing themselves every year in form and style, and inviting visitors in for unbridled cultural revelations.”

The multi-hued celebration scene in Romania is fueled by the intriguing folklore rooted deep within its history. The most remarkable ones pay homage to mythical as well as historical figures in the most colorful ways. The pastoral charm of Transylvania is a common theme in many events. Yet, you will also get to experience a stimulating blend of Western culture and home-brewed customs. Romania has seen its share of modern and innovative festivals brought by contemporary culture in recent years. Depending on when you are visiting, you will find a plethora of activities appealing to every taste.

The National Easter Eggs Festival is a favorite among travelers. During this merry two-day period, local artisans work their magic on Easter eggs, bringing joy into a special day otherwise quite classic. There is even an international competition to honor the best egg art, along with artisan markets, fairs, and traditional music shows. Another quintessentially Romanian festival is the Junii Brasovului Parade, dating back to the medieval ages. Costumed locals reenact the descent of the Junii people from the mountains accompanied by the cheering folk. If you don’t have an understanding of how much Romania values its rural traditions, the Shepherd’s Festival will tell you all about it. Brasov is the address for this matchless event, in which the shepherds making their return home with the livestock are celebrated with dance and music shows.

You will also come across a handful of modern festivals uniting more contemporary trends with hearty Transylvanian food. The Beer Craft Festival is one of them, presenting a rich variety of Romania’s best artisanal beer. Check local events in the cities that you visit, and you will surely find countless opportunities to experience Romanian culture to the fullest.

Romanian culture
Romanian culture

Romania Food Guide

Check out our Romania Food Guide for the tasty local dishes and drinks you must try.

Romanian culture

Romania Travel Advice

Everything you need to know about traveling to Romania is in our Romania Travel Advice guide.

Romanian culture

Solo Travels

Are you traveling alone? Check out our Solo Travels page for detail.

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