"Mărţisor" is a traditional celebration taking place every year on March 1st and marking the arrival of spring. Its name comes from the name of the month of March (martie in Romanian) and literally it means “little” March. On this day the custom is to give small objects as a gift to those close to you, all this objects having one thing in common, a red and white string which is tied to the object. Usually men give this gifts to women and women (only) wear them pinned to their shirts for luck. The wikipedia article dedicated to this custom cites that in the past these objects were seen as talismans or charms while today they have “became more of a symbol of friendship and love, appreciation and respect”. The custom appears to be very old, with many ethnologists saying that its roots go as far as the Roman Empire or the Thracians. It is a nice custom and a good way for artists to make some money by selling hand made “mărtişoare” – the small object given as a gift bears the same name as the name of the celebration: mărţişor.
People here shake hands when they first meet, and after that a kiss on each cheek is acceptable.
always greet a stranger formally, and use the polite form of you 'vu'.
if you are familiar with the person you can be as informal as you like!!!!
Bucharest's Christmas lights are switched on on December 1st, Romania's National Day and are switched off on January 6th. The opening ceremony in Piaţa Unirii is accompanied by a firework display. The centrepiece of the illuminations is a giant artificial tree, said to be the tallest in Europe. The tree is 76 metres high, as high as a 21-storey skyscraper, 26 metres in diameter, weighs 290 tons and is covered with an incredible 2.4 million lights. In 2007, 25 lorries were needed to transport the tree and decorations, which took two months and the 300 people to erect.
I'd highly encourage visitors to Romania to read up on Nicolae Ceausescu, the leader of Romania from 1965 until December 1989, as it will give you an idea of some of the history of the country and explain a lot of what you will still see in Bucharest and Romania.
On December 22, 1989, Ceausescu would give his final speech from the balcony of the Central Committee Building in the Piata Republica (Republican Square), since renamed Piata Revolutiei (Revolution Square). Minutes into the speech the crowd had turned on him and he sought refuge inside the building until the following day when the protestors stormed the building and Ceausescu escaped with his wife via a helicopter, a fateful decision. Within days they were both tried and executed by a firing squad, on Christmas Day, 1989.
Until you have visited Romania, it is hard to imagine how important a figure George Enescu is to Romanian culture. He was the country's greatest composer and probably the most famous Romanian ever in the field of the arts. He is to Romania as Shakespeare is to England or Sibelius is to Finland. The annual George Enescu International Festival held every September is the country's most prestigious music festival, attracting great musicians and orchestras from all over the world.
There is a George Enescu Museum, a street named after him and several statues of the composer dotted around the city, the most important of which is the one in front of the opera house. Romania's principal orchestra was renamed the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra after his death.
Enescu was born in Liveni in 1881 and died in Paris in 1955. In 1939 he married Princess Cantacuzino and lived in the Cantacazino Palace in Calea Victoriei. He composed five symphonies, but his most famous works are his two Romanian Rhapsodies and his opera Oedipe. His music was heavily influenced by Romanian folk music.
I did not realize that Romanians were so religious. In fact, when on Bucharest buses, I noticed that every time we were passing by a church, local people were doing "the cross sign", really everyone on the bus, even very young people.
I thought Italy was a religious country, but to my surprise Romania is even more!
Cinemas broadcast films in their original language with sub-titles. While most stick to Hollywood drivel, some honourable exceptions show an impressive range of classic, challenging and foreign films, some dating from the early twentieth century. There are frequent film festivals.
There are several cinemas on Magheru blv. - Studio, Patria, Scala, CinemaPro. Old movies are usually on screen at Cinemateca - there are two of them, one on Eforie street and the other behind Sala Palatului, near Novotel.
Shopping malls in Vitan, the Plaza in Militari and CityMall in Brancoveanu, all have several cinema halls.
Movies on screen every week are listed online at the link below
Drivers have assumed right of way on both road and pavement and routinely park right across the latter, forcing pedestrians into the street where they will then be hooted at by passing cars.
Bucharest suffers from a surfeit of cars in a city designed for few. Parking is practically non-existent and drivers stop almost anywhere they spot a space, regardless of pedestrian access. Driving is often characterised by relentless hooting, aggression, gesticulating and hazardous moves.
Questions that start with "why" are not very often worth asking in Bucharest. However, I’m asking them here, to share them with you.
Why don't you let the passengers off the bus or tram first, before you try to barge on?
Why cannot I buy bus tickets form the non-stop kiosks in the bus-stop, but only from a separate kiosk off the bus-stop, which sells only bus tickets from 6AM to 9 PM?
Why is that car hooting at me while I cross the street when I have a green man?
Why cannot I take pictures of the façade of certain palaces and villas which host public institutions or embassies?
Why all restaurants serving traditional Romanian cuisine put noisy music?
Why are most waiters sullen and reluctant to be polite?
Why do churches have the national flag at the entrance?
Why do you press up against my back when we're in a queue even though we have plenty of space?
Why do I have to queue three separate times to buy a piece of cake or to make one single bank transaction?
Why would the pretentious chap who has just left the trendy café get into his convertible, put on his hat and gloves because it is so cold, and then proceed to put the top down?
Why put the fruit in the fridge but leave the fruit juice (marked ''store in refrigerator'') out of the fridge?
Forget all notions that you have of customer service. Otherwise, after 90 per cent of your dealings with waiters, shopkeepers and members of the public you will be left wondering what you had done to offend the person to make them so curt and rude to you.
Of course you have done nothing wrong: the ostensible hostile way Romanians behave with each other is just normal conduct in Bucharest.
The illogical situation I struggle the most with is the service in restaurants, which is often sullen and reluctant. I just cannot fathom the logic of the miserable waiter. The better I’m served, the larger the tip. Even if I’m served ineptly but with a smile and good humour I’ll most probably tip the waiter. Pleasantness equals money for him. What purpose serves his surliness? Maybe his miserable salary?
Friends tell me I'm being too “British” about it if I expect "please" and "thank you" to accompany every transaction. But dealings in shops, stations and restaurants are a necessary part of both my and the employees' lives. A smile transcends culture - why not make the exchange nicer for both of us? But then, that's a question that starts with why…..
The old name of March, ”martisor”, reminds the traditional custom of celebrating the spring by wearing red and white colored braids. The Romanian word “martisor” comes from “matisor” (the buds which appear in spring time). On March 1: “Martisor” (little March)people share martisors; red and white ribbon handmade flowers, which symbolize love and purity. The martisors are attached to the clothes on the chest and are worn the whole March month. Thus, people show they are happy for nature's rebirth. It is also said that martisors bring luck for the entire year ahead.
One of the most beautiful Romanian Easter traditions is painted eggs. The shells of hard-boiled eggs are dyed in colourful patterns, with a rich red the prevailing colour. They are often decorated with folk motifs. Designs are made with an implement called a condei or chisita - a small cartridge filled with paint with a sharp point on the end. There are a myriad of motifs used on painted eggs. The most popular ones are the cross, the star, the sun, the wave, the zigzags, and stylised flowers. Sometimes motifs are applied using natural leaves. Traditionally, it's the women who paint Easter eggs, and they have to do it on the Thursday before Easter.
"Gogoasa infuriata" means "The angry doughnut" :)) Seems like people are still eating doughnuts and preffer local brands than the bigger internationsl chain "Dunkin' Doughnuts", maybe because the local recipes are better or maybe because this are cheaper.
Another recent hobby for people - shopping at the Mall and the supermarkets. As you can see from this pictures, even married people with children can't help it :) This poor child is sleeping between the groceries :))
Supermarkets are crowded mostly in weekends from 10 to 7pm. Weekdays are better to go there.
Prince Vlad Zepes, better known as "Dracula" ruled the Romanian province of Wallachia, by the way, not Transylvania (north of Wallachia). Transylvania was actually the site of his lengthy imprisonment under a Hungarian king: ...According to the legend, this is when Dracula's wife, in order to escape Turkish capture, committed suicide by hurling herself from the upper battlements, her body falling down the precipice into the river below -. Vlad, who was definitely not the kind of man to kill himself, managed to escape the siege of his fortress by using a secret passage into the mountain. Helped by some peasants of the Arefu village, he was able to reach Transylvania where he met the new king of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus. However, instead of providing some help, Matthias arrested Dracula and imprisoned him at the Hungarian capital of Visegrad. It was not until 1475 that Vlad was again recognized as the prince of Wallachia, enjoying a very short third reign. In fact, he was assassinated toward the end of December 1476....