Badnja Vece (Christmas Eve in Serbian) has always been my favorite day of the year, that being January 6th not December 24th. After the past two Christmases spent in Singeorz-Bai, I have realized that the 24th is always one of my favorite days of the year and it is thanks to my students and them showing me the wonderful traditions that come with this day.
Romanians have a lovely tradition of caroling for the night of Christmas Eve that starts sometime after dinner and can go as late as the next morning. They as friends, family, or classmates, go from house to house caroling where they are then invited inside for a drink, treat, and some great company. I spent this particular night at my house with Robert waiting for my students to come caroling. We bought the drinks, I made about 150 brownies, and we were ready just in time when the first class showed up around 8pm. I was visited by almost all of the classes that I teach as well as last year’s 12A class that has graduated and is on to college. The last group that came was the current 12A that stayed until about 1am. The whole night was an absolute blast and I am so happy that I decided to stay at home and spend this holiday with my kids.
We are in town until the 27th when we head off to Sighetu Marmatiei to meet up with Anthony at Kevin’s site to celebrate the holidays Maramures style!
Va pup si va doresc un craciun fericit!
Me with some of the kids from 12A
School was cut short on Thursday so I got sent home at 11 and Friday the students were only there for about an hour with their head teachers which was the official sign that winter break had started. A fellow PCV, Aran, that teaches in an elementary school in the city of Ploiesti came into town to visit and experience a Romanian Christmas in the country. Friday was spent just walking around town, seeing the local Friday market and eating some of the best tasting mici I’ve ever eaten in my life. Friday night Aran, Mary, and I headed out to Megapark which is the HUGE new club that opened up in Singeorz. It is something else and when you walk inside, you feel like you have stepped into a posh new nightclub in a big city, not in a sleepy little town int he mountains. The three of us, along with 2 of Mary’s friends spent the whole night dancing and hanging out with each other and whichever students decided to come and hang out with us as well.
Saturday was spent at Mary’s house waiting for carolers. Here the tradition is that all the students gather with their classmates and go from teacher to teacher caroling and then go caroling to each others houses until the early hours of the morning. Mary had Aran and I over for the tradition Romanian dinner of Sarmale with other dishes and the first carolers showed up around 6:30 pm. I ended up seeing classes 9A, 9D, 10A, 10B, 12D, and then when I got back home, I was called over to my neighbor’s and fellow student’s house where all of 12A had congregated. Since Mary’s mom is a kindergarten teacher, we got a lot of cute 5 and 6 year olds caroling to us as well.
Christmas day was spent with the other English teacher I work with, Varvara, and her family at her house in Maieru (the comuna north of us) I got to meet Varvara’s brother from Sibiu along with her daughter Andreea that is in the 8th grade. Her son, Tudor, I already know since he is one of my students in the 12th grade. She made a wonderful lunch and we ended up spending the entire day with Varvara and her family.
Today I woke up with a crazy cold and naturally, its the day that I have to leave for my trip. I’m headed to Timisoara to visit a PCV (Sara) that lives nearby and then headed on my Eurotrip and will be returning January 10th. So until next time! Va pup!
Being the last week before Christmas break, things has been pretty relaxed around school. We haven’t really been teaching this week since we have been finishing up inputting our grades into the catalogs, testing, and just hanging out with our students. Yesterday classes were let out at noon so everyone could partake in the caroling contest the school put on at the casa de cultura (house of culture). Most of the classes participated and the carols ranged from very traditional songs that dated back who knows how long to some more modern Romania/French/English collaborations. It was a really great event and in a way made me really homesick. It made me miss all my friends and family back home and I even had to choke back the tears a few times. Below are some videos of the students singing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a video of either of my 11th grade classes I teach.
After all of the performances and while the judges deliberated as to who the winner was, a few of the really good singers came on stage. The first video is one of my 12B students whom I tutor, Emanuela. Her voice is amazing and the first time i heard her sing in my class, she sang Ave Maria and blew me away.
We (the teachers) ended the day in a classroom where we gathered to celebrate the holiday by enjoying some snacks, homemade wine, and traditional Romanian carols. It was beautiful to hear everyone singing and the music teacher playing his violin and another on the guitar. I am so grateful to experience all of these great traditions and its so nice to see the true spirit of Christmas. Without all of the marketing and commercialization. Here, in the tiny town of Singeorz-Bai, in the middle of the mountains in Romania, the true meaning of Christmas still exists. Cherishing the time spent with friends and family, not material things such as presents.