How We Spent the Best Christmas Ever – Round Dancing at the Diligent’s Prom
There are only 32 days left till Christmas and we didn’t make any plans yet. There is no panic. Sometimes good things happen to those who don’t make any plans. The most definitely we’re going to spend the Christmas in Romania. Like we did last year. I was working for a logistic company, and their trucks were driving even on Christmas. How can you make plans when you can’t even hope for a free day?…The miracle happened when my boss approved the special Christmas schedule. We packed up and drove to Bukowina. Good thing! I felt like I escaped from Alcatraz. We were 10 hours away from home, living the most authentic experience ever!
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have real fun with real dance-loving people. It was the first time I ever attended such an event. And, believe it or not, many Romanians have no idea what I’m talking about. A lot of friends from Fb asked us where did we take those pictures.
These proms are being organized in some villages from Moldova and Bukowina. Attended by the peasant people, dressed in national costumes. Don’t imagine some simple costumes! They want to wear their most spectacular blouses. In my naivety, I was hoping that my blouse was going to be the best looking blouse at the prom. In my dreams! You just can’t compete them! Their pride is too strong. When they make a blouse, they have their neighbors and all the villagers in mind. Each one wants to be the cherry on top. But not in a bad way, not exaggerated, they don’t brag. They just want to show their diligence, because the diligent is a worthy person. The lazy people are unappreciated by the community.
We spent all evening preparing for it. While grandma was watching all of us getting ready, I could see a light in her eyes. She was remembering her youth, living those times again through us. At 9 pm, we arrived at the community center. A choir was singing Christmas songs.
Each family brought food and drink, because they cooked plenty. We took some pictures on the stage and then, the fun began. The singers Andreea Chisalita, Solovastru Emila, Natalia Coaja were amazing and the atmosphere was brilliant. Great traditional music!
We have been round dancing all night long, together with the dancing band from Vicov. Some extremely talented dancers! They are intimidating if you dance nearby them. Not for the faint-hearted. You can get very dizzy from watching them whirl!
And this is a short video from our records:
Can’t even describe how it feels to be dancing there, sweating and dancing even more with all those people.
How These Traditions were Brought Back to Life
What was the purpose of these gatherings? Aside from the obvious, when a girl was ready for marriage, her mother would put ornaments round her neck and allow her to go to the dance. This was an emblematic moment in rural life. A moment when the family would announce the availability of their daughter for marriage. By wearing the necklace at the dance, the girl signaled that young men were allowed to ask her to dance and woo her.
We salute the efforts of mr Calin Brateanu, a famous singer from Bukowina, who has been working to bring these traditions back to life. Between 1920-1940’s, people got together at the wealthiest man, with the biggest house. In 1950-1970’s, when the community centers were founded, everyone could participate at these proms. In 1970’s they were organized by the wealthiest peasants and attended by the most prosperous families. Hence the name “The Diligent’s Prom” (read more).