Sunday, November 29, 2015

Traditions That Remain Vibrant...St.Andrew's Night November 30th

 For Romanian people, on the night of St. Andrew, November 30th, the traditions are similar to the American Halloween, accompanied by many rituals and superstitions.

According to the ancient folk traditions, tonight the spirits come in the world of living, wolves talk with human voices while people protect themselves from evil using ancient spells and….garlic….yes the wonderful garlic is used in protecting the stables, wreaths are hung inside, bundles of garlic at windows of the homes and delicious meals are abundantly blessed with garlic.

Garlic Wreath
There is another culinary delight that comes into the recipes of St. Andrew’s night protection...the fragrant basil, not only to enhance any dish but put under the pillow at night by the single young women so they may see their true beloved in their dreams.

Basil Under The Pillow Tradition
The Apostle St. Andrew is considered the country's patron, he preached the Gospel and he shared the word of God in these lands, thus one can find in Dobrogea region of Romania ancient names of places, such as Saint Andrew's Cave, St. Andrew creek.

St.Andrew's Cave
Apostle St.Andrew Protector of Romania

Farmers and gardeners honor Saint Andrew by sprouting wheat indoors to predict how abundant the harvest will be next year, and also to bring good fortune and prosperity to the households and their family in the coming year. 

Sprouted Wheat for Good Fortune

They will set the green wheat bowls on their New Year's Feast tables.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Art In The Afternoon….Sibiel Glass Icon Museum

Village of Sibiel

An afternoon September rain has purified the landscape in the region of Sibiu, Transylvania…crisp, wet colors woven in nature’s cloth are guiding the traveler towards a necklace of villages with rich tradition called Marginimea Sibiului, neighboring villages like Tilisca, Vale, Orlat, Saliste and my final destination Sibiel where a jewel of a folk art museum is preserving a very unique collection of Icons Painted on Glass.
Village Life
The painting of icons on glass is an ancient Romanian folk tradition dating back to 1699 in various regions of Transylvania - Nicula and surrounding areas (Northern Transylvania), Mures Valley, the Fagaras, Brasov area, Valley of Sebes, Alba Iulia, Mǎrginimea Sibiului – and each is characterized by their specific style.
St. Ilie Glass Icon
These areas are all well represented in the Museum “Fr. Zosim Oancea” where, among the almost 600 icons collection, artistic jewels of the local traditions are exhibited.
Fr. Zosim Oancea Museum, Sibiel
After their work in the fields was done or when the weather did not permit outdoor activities, some of the peasants in the area dedicated themselves to painting icons on glass.
Museum Interior, Sibiel 

They produced all colors from natural pigments and materials blending mixtures using animal fat, egg yolk, linseed oil etc.
Holy Trinity Glass Icon

Icon Painting was never a commercial profit activity, but an expression of faith and desire to have a Holy Icon in their home.
The painters had to prepare spiritually through prayer and fasting, before creating the icons.
St. George Glass Icon

Pieta Crucifixion Glass Icon

Friday, July 24, 2015

Celebrating St.Cristina....My Name Day July 24

Summer Meadow

Memories of childhood wrap around me each summer on July 24, bowls of sweet cherries, meadows filled with poppies and cornflowers, puffy clouds floating above...bliss in the hills of Saliste, Sibiu village of my youth in Transylvania.

Cotton Woven Towel

After church, a delightful summer picnic was unwrapped from the wicker basket, laid out on a woven table cloth in the middle of a meadow under a tree for shade.

Sibiu Burduf Cheese

Fresh yellow bean salad, grilled bacon dripping on Ardeal bread with sweet onions, selection of Sibiu cheese, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, sweet braided bread.

Bacon Over Fire 

Bacon & Drippings On Farm Bread & Sweet Onions

Sweet Braided Bread

Yellow Bean Salad

Pottery Large Jar

Traditional delights were brought in pottery bowls, well water and the always present tuica and a jug of wine from the cellar.

Hurezu Pottery Bowls

Corund Wine Jugs 

Tuica Plum Spirit

On the way back, a crown of meadow flowers was always braided and worn with pride reminding me of St.Cristina my patron saint.

Someone's Beautiful Child

St. Cristina of Tyre, Holy Martyr commemorated on July 24, celebrated by the Orthodox and Catholic Christians alike, lived in the city of Tyre,now known as Bolsena in Tuscany, under the rule of Emperor Septimius Severus (193-211).

Byzantine Icon of St. Christina
Her image was also depicted in the superb mosaics of Ravenna, Italy.

Ravenna Mosaic

She was the daughter of a Roman general named Urban who forbade the Christian faith, raised her with pagan gold idols and guarded by well-chosen pagan servants.

Romanian Icon of St. Hristina

This has not prevented the young Cristina to know Christ, to shatter the idols of gold and silver and to divide them among the poor, by throwing the pieces out the window.

An angel came to her and appointed her bride of Christ, giving her more devotion to her faith.

Catholic Statue of St. Cristina

The punishment of her father for her defiant actions was horrific. After being subjected to torture, Cristina was thrown in jail and finally sentenced to death for not denouncing her Christian faith.
Brutal end being killed with spears by soldiers.

Catholic Painting of St.Cristina

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

St.Ilie The Stormy Saint

July 20...a candle is sending holy light for my father's is St.Ilie, his name day, celebrated in the Orthodox traditions in Romania.
St. Elijah Fresco
Folk traditions associate this saint with the rain, he is patron of the clouds, lightning and thunder, he travels in a chariot with winged horses.

Traditions continue after the passing of our loved ones, they keep them with us during our journey among the living.

Icon of St. Elijah on Glass

I remember hot summer July days in Moldova, Bucovina roaming the region's hills for ancient painted monasteries and their feasts.

Now, in the villages, beekeepers harvest honey from their hives. Harvesting honey is made only by men clean in body and soul, dressed in holiday clothes, helped by a child, women are not allowed to enter the apiary. 
Country Beehives

Sweet Honey

Beehives Fresco

After harvesting the honey, the families, along with relatives and neighbors are invited to a festive meal, the guests taste and celebrate with new honey, and palinca, a plum spirit sweetened with honey. 

The women get the ovens hot to bake the savory pies and tarts.

Getting the oven ready

Transylvanian Traditional Foods

The meal is meant to ensure the abundance of beekeeper's hives, healthy bees and as every celebration it turns into a real party with song and dance.

Savory Pie

Fresh Romanian Cheese

Fresh Goat Milk and Savory Tarts

In my father's honor I painted my interpretation of St.Ilie, roaming the skies, snapping his whips as thunder and bringing rain clouds over the crops.

Memory Eternal Tati!

St.Ilie Painting on Gold Leaf

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Water – Sacred Romanian Ancient Myth

According to the original source, in the beginning, when there was "nothing" - when there is only the possibility or unspecified existence of creation - that nothing has taken the form of a "multitude of waters " swirling in space thus "in the beginning was only water."

He is walking on Water

Romanian legends tell us that only God and the Devil were traveling on these waters and God, Dumnnezeu trampled over the Devil, Dracul with both superior powers and the truths.

Water appears both as a source of raw material but also as a symbol of regeneration and source of life. The presence of water is required in the depiction of any existing family or social rites.

Healing Source

Water  is also seen as blood, a purifier and transfiguring of the earth. Its function is magical and sacred in these rites as  the purifier. Ground water after the original creation, has resulted in a kind of cosmic body in waters that spring from the depths when the earth is "hurt" - naturally or by human intervention they are the "blood of the earth". Therefore, the nature of its cleansing ability resembles the pagan blood sacrifices.
Baptismal of Our Lord

This water as purifier is present in the rite of baptism or bathing the child immediately after birth and bathing the dead before burial.

The ancient water rites continue today through the purification of the body with thermal healing waters from various Spas and Resorts throughout Romania.
Herculane Baths

Hercules Statue in Herculane

Herculane Baths, the oldest resort in Romania and one of the oldest in the world, documented since Roman times in 153 AD.
The hot springs have a temperature between 100 and136 degrees Fahrenheit. The resort is situated in Caras-Severin part of the Cerna Valley National Park-Domogled.
Herculane Baths 1824

The main healing factors are the therapeutic sulfur springs, iodine, bromine or bicarbonate, mineral and chlorosodic which are recommended for both external and internal cures.

Calimanesti – Caciulata Baths  are situated in a  beautiful landscape on the river Olt Valley, famous for its therapeutic effects of mineral waters for a multitude of health issues, so  effective that they were regurarly used by the French emperor Napoleon III himself.
Calimanesti Hotel
Our foot steps take us quietly to a holy place nearby, Cozia Monastery, near a body of water....erected close to Calimanesti by Mircea The Elder in 1388 and housing his of the most valuable monuments of medieval art and architecture in Romania.
Cozia Monastery

Cozia Monastery Fresco 

Mircea The Elder Founder of Cozia Monastery

                              Water.... Source of Life....Rejoice!