History behind Romanian culture

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Romania – whirlpool of cultures and traditions

As we’ve seen in our previous piece on Romania, it is a country that has always been at the intersection of major cultures and societies. This has had a great influence on the Romanian culture proper. Nowadays, what we call “culture” in this Eastern European state is practically a sum of numerous “borrowed” things that have been adapted to the local setting.

One of the main pillars on which Romania’s mental setting and cultural landscape is built is its Latinity. Even the name of the country sends readers thinking of ancient Rome, and so it should be. As opposed to many of its neighbors, Romania does not have a Slavic language, but a Latin one (very close to Italian, actually); and does not use the Cyrillic alphabet, but the Latin script. Its people are brunette, olive oil-skinned, with greater resemblances with the Spanish, rather than the Russians. Because of its Latinity, Romania has always had a Western-oriented society, thinking of itself together with its Latin brothers

Calligraphy in a Latin Bible of AD 1407 - http://en.wikipedia.org/

Calligraphy in a Latin Bible of AD 1407 – http://en.wikipedia.org/%5B/caption%5D

The second pillar is Christianity, Eastern Christianity. Romanians are predominantly Orthodox, with a large minority of Roman and Greek Catholics (located mostly in Transylvania). For centuries, this was one of the reasons why Russia exerted influence over the country and, at some point, tried to engulf it. In recent years, since joining the EU and moving towards the West, Orthodoxy has been left aside and somehow lost its importance. Despite this fact, some of the most important monuments that Romania has to offer are churches and monasteries – magnificent examples of Orthodox architecture can be found in the Northern region of Bucovina or in Wallachia.

[caption id="attachment_3394" align="aligncenter" width="300"]courtesy of romaniadacia.wordpress.com courtesy of romaniadacia.wordpress.com

The third pillar is the Turkish influence – probably the worst one that Romania has come under. Romanian cuisine is a result of it, with several dishes (including sarmale – the national dish) originating from Turkey. Cooking in Romania is mainly based on meat and vegetables, and it consists of soups (locally named ciorba), steaks, vegetable lasagnas (musaca) and baked products (cozonac – a kind of Italian pannetonne and papanasi – fried dough balls dipped in sour cream and marmalade).

courtesy of www.restaurant-casa-don.ro Sarmale- http://www.restaurant-casa-don.ro[/caption%5D

Food is not the only thing that Turkey brought over – the culture of corruption is another important “gift”. The tradition of paying for bypassing obstacles or legal procedures has been a trademark of the Ottoman Empire and the way it saw social relations. Unfortunately, the same style was adopted by the Romanian people, but, in recent years, great strives have been made in order to renounce it.

What has come out of this whole mélange: contemporary Romania. A country that sees itself as a part of the West, with examples of classical French and German architecture all around the country and a Western mentality to its citizens, but that, at the same time, has to live with its Orthodox and Turkish heritage. This makes Romania a prime example of a somehow broken society, fighting its way out of an intersection of cultures. Which makes it even more interesting for visitors. You’ll see what I mean when you land in Bucharest: big modern airport but filled with taxi drivers that can’t wait to scam some money off of you.

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