Northern Romania old-rite ethnic Ukrainians celebrate Christmas

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More than 45,000 ethnic Ukrainians living in Maramures, northern Romania as well as some 100 Republic of Moldova tourists have come to the resorts of Cavnic and Suior to celebrate the old-rite Christmas Monday evening.

Locals of eight villages, most of them located in the mountainous areas of Maramures county, preserve the traditions and customs specific of this celebration and Fast is closely observed by most Ukrainians.

'Christmas is waited for with fast, prayers and traditions remembering The Saviour's Birth. The rural world closely observes the Fast and meat meals are eaten by some families as late as on Christmas Day. The first meal is served in the family, on Christmas morning, sometime around 2 a.m., after the return from church', Ioan Cauni, a Poienile de sub Munte local told AGERPRES.

One of the customs encountered in the ethnic Ukrainians' villages is the symbolical representation of Christ's Nativity by laying blades of hay under the table cloth, on which part of the Fast meals that are eaten on Christmas morning are laid. The table is linked by a chain symbolizing the wild beasts chained so as not to attack the flocks and herds that go up the mountain when spring comes.

The Old Believers put lit candles at each of the four table corners and the meal is served only after prayers are said.

On Christmas Eve it is only the children and teens who go caroling, with the adult going singing carols on the first and second night. The young men go caroling to the young girls on the second evening of Christmas. Tradition has it that it is a good thing to have a man, a boy or a young man entering one's house on Christmas Eve, since they signify the household's welfare.AGERPRES

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