Everyone knows that New Year’s Eve traditions can be very different all over the world. Even the first day of the new year is usually celebrated very differently. Where some people try to recover from the New Year’s Eve party on the sofa, others race highly motivated to the gym.
In Romania, however, people look forward to a very special tradition on the first day of the new year (January 1st); the so-called “Sorcova” festival. “Surov”, which comes from Bulgarian and means “strawberry green”, alludes to the colourfully decorated Sorcoba twigs, which are definitely not to be missed in the oldest Romanian New Year tradition.
But what actually happens at the “Sorcova” or what does the custom mean for Romania?
Welcome the New Year
When the new year begins, the old one is buried. The sadness and nostalgia of Christmas carols make room for the optimism, joy and laughter of the New Year. And this is exactly what is celebrated in Romania with the Sorcova festival: the New Year is welcomed!
Usually, the celebrations begin early in the morning when the children of Romania set out to walk through their villages with their colourful decorated branches. With their walk they herald the New Year and wish everyone they meet happiness, health and a long life.
They are usually dressed in traditional costumes, with handmade weaving of Romanian folk motifs on their shoulders. The branch they carry around is decorated with colourful knitted flowers and should bring luck to everyone who receives a light blow on the shoulders. The children also carry a sack with various grains of grain with them at all times on their way, to scatter them in every house where they are received. The cereal grains stand for wealth, health and happiness. The homeowners collect them later and feed them to their animals to ensure their happiness. According to tradition, those who are not greeted with the Sorcova custom or who do not participate in the festivities will have a difficult, sad and unfulfilled year. Also, all those who are visited by the children during the feast should provide cakes, sweets or fruit for the little messengers of good luck.
A traditional poem, recited by the children during the Sorcova custom, goes like this
“Sorcova, see it,
Live, grow old,
Like a hair, like an apple,
Like a rose thread,
Hard as a rock,
As fast as the arrow,
Hard as nails,
Fast as steel.
“Happy New Year and Happy New Year!”