Author Archives: Jocelyn Torres

Festival – Romania

December 31 Festival

In many villages, especially in the northeastern province of Moldavia, December 31 is the big day — not eve, but morning. Tradition-packed outdoor events are taking place in all the bigger villages in the province, despite the low temperatures and clouded skies.
First, a choir of school girls sing old carols. Animal skin winter jackets fail to completely hide their embroidered blouses, flowered belts and long striped skirts from which the lacy edge of white under-skirts peeks. Colorful hand-woven shoulder bags and black head scarves complete the costumes which are unique to the area.

Soon, this idyllic scene gives way to the whistles and shouts of young men who gallop out for a spirited dance of the “caiuti,” or horses. With amazingly fast foot movements, punctuated by high kicks and boot-slaps, they maneuver themselves and white cloth horse heads, attached to their waists and adorned with embroidery, tassels and a multitude of colored pom poms. In olden days, white horses were believed to be messengers bringing life and luck and this dance symbolizes the bond between farmers and the animals that pull their wagons and aid in working the land.

A clack, clack, clack signals the arrival of the “capra” (goat). A guaranteed crowd pleaser, the carved wooden head is attached to a long pole which the bearer manipulates to noisily open and close the mouth as he dances around. Any resemblance to a real-life animal has been disguised with long ribbons, a towering headdress and other adornments that flashed into the creator’s mind. This dance once foretold an increase in shepherds’ flocks along with abundant crops in the new year. Today’s antics are lighthearted, with many a satirical reference to the manners and morals of the villagers.

Another festival staple is the dance of the bears — the two-legged costumed variety. Accompanied by their Gypsy trainer and a youth beating a tambourine-type instrument, the animals crawl through the crowd. Reaching the center, they perform a dance until eventually, the bears fall dead on the ground. After their hearts are taken by the trainer, they return to life, theoretically, a more gentle one. Even today, more bears exist in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains than any other place in Europe and this ancient rite suggests the power of man to tame nature.

Throughout the festival, masked figures run about, banging anything that makes noise, to frighten away any stray bad spirits that might have invaded the merrymaking. This is another reference to pre-modern days when people believed that spirits of the deceased wandered the Earth between Christmas Eve and January 6. After young orators offer rhyming chants of welcome and good wishes for the new year, the mayor presents round braided loaves of bread — symbolizing abundance and rich harvests — to each participant.

Following the spectacle — in a scene repeated in villages and cities throughout Moldavia — groups of children, dressed as bears, horsemen or Gypsies, make the rounds of their neighborhoods. Announcing themselves with a jangling bell, they touch the homeowners with a flower-adorned stick while chanting a verse invoking them to be “strong as stone, quick as an arrow, strong as iron and steel.” In return, they receive fruit, candy, a pastry or some coins.

Georgiana also told me the following:

I saw the winter celebration festivities in Moldova; my father is born in a bigger village in Moldova and I remember going to my grandparents for Christmas and seeing them. Again, these are also popular tourist destinations and they are well preserved also because of this reason.

Although the festival attracts many tourists, the locals do not stop having fun. It seems that everyone takes part in the festival. The festival has many activities and separate traditions which are incorporated into one end of the year celebration. Georgiana mentioned that she greatly enjoyed attending the festival. I feel this is an attraction well-liked by both tourists and locals.

Festival – Romania

Targul de Fete

Targul de Fete or Maidens’ Fair is a well-known Romanian festival, which takes place in July atop Mt. Giana. This mountain is about 20 miles west of Campeni, which is located in the province of Transylvania. In the past decades, it served as an opportunity for young men to meet girls from neighboring villages. Everyone wore their finest traditional attire because the meetings usually led to marriage.

The festival still continues to this day but its purpose is no longer to find a partner for marriage. Life is less isolated and young people do not need help meeting others. Currently, the festival is a time for traditional attire, food, music, and dance. Well-known folk artists perform at this festival every year.

Georgiana says that she attended the festival twice when she was younger, but attended it as a tourist. She did not participate in the traditional ceremonies. Instead, she was involved in the more modern celebrations, which include fairs and popular music concerts along with other events. The festival has become an annual destination for tourist but it is also popular within the community.

I thought it was interesting that although Georgiana visited as a tourist she was not interested in taken part of the tradition aspect of the fair. This could either be due to the fact that she is a tourist from within Romania and not an international tourist or because she was a young girl interested in new trends.


Roberts, James. The Mountains of Romania. Cicerone Press Limited, 2005. p. 167

Food – Italy


Piadina is thin Italian flat bread similar to a Mexican tortilla that is typical to the South Romanian region of Italy. It is present at every event, whether formal or informal. She learned it from her family who lived in the country side. She says that she has only seen it in the South region of Rome. It is usually eaten with very simple ingredients like ham, broccoli, and cheese. She believes it is because they are cheap and easy to get.

I found it interesting that she wanted to make it clear that no other Italians except for the ones in the region mentioned knew how to make proper piadina and they were the only ones who ate it regularly. Food is a big factor when telling groups apart. When we think of Italy we usually think about pastas and of course pizza. Yet, pizza is typical of Napoli not all of Italy, although the majority of Italians do eat pizza. She wanted to make it clear that piadina is the food that made that region special gastronomically speaking.


May, Tony. Italian Cuisine: The New Essential Reference to the Riches of the Italian Table. Italy: Macmillan, 2005. p. 63

Games – United States of America


In this game, which is usually played at night and can be played both indoors and outdoors, a person is chosen to be the seeker. The seeker must first count to sixty in a corner to give the other players a chance to hide. When the seeker has counted to sixty, he must find all those who are hiding. Once the seeker finds a person in hiding, he must tag him and then the person tagged becomes the seekers helper. The seeker and all those tagged must keep seeking and tagging until all the players have been tagged. The first person tagged becomes the new seeker if they decide to play again.

The way the original seeker is chosen is especially interesting. One can become the seeker by being the last one to call not it when everyone has agreed to play. The other way of being chosen is through a counting game called “bubble gum”. First, the players agree upon a number which will be used later on, and they get in a circle. In the circle they put their hands into fists and one person becomes the self assigned counter. The counter repeats the following while hitting first the fist, which he is not using to count, and then everyone else’s fists with his counting fist:

(number is 5)

Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish who many pieces do you wish..1,2,3,4,5

The person whose fist is hit last is free of being the seeker. The count is repeated until there is only one person left standing. The last one standing becomes the seeker. If the counter is hit last, then someone else becomes the counter, again this role is self-assigned.

Ricardo learned both hide-n-seek and bubble gum from his cousins. He plays the game because he enjoys it and because it is a fun way to get active.

I do not know why one must hide but I believe there must be a reason for it besides to just make the game more interesting. The fact that this game is played at night is to make it difficult for the seeker to find the hiders. It is also not rare to have those hiding scare the seeker, even though they risk being tagged.

Game – United States of America

La Migra

La Migra begins by the choosing of two teams. One team becomes the immigrants and the other team becomes the immigration official (la migra). Two team captains, who are either self assigned or nominated by the other players, pick their team members and which role they will play. Then a barrier is usually chosen, this can be a fence or anything which separates to sides. A jail and a safety point are also chosen. The jail is on the immigrant’s territory and the safety point is on la migra’s territory. Once all of this is decided the officials count to ten giving the immigrants a chance to cross the border which was pre-assigned. The immigrants must run across the border and through la migra, which is allowed to hit the immigrants, without getting caught and sent to jail. In jail the player is out once tagged by another player who has already reached the safety point. These players risk being jailed, since the after all are still immigrants. The way to win the game if you are on la migra’s side is by jailing all the immigrants. The immigrants win by getting all their players to the safety point.

I asked Ricardo why he played the game and he told me that he has heard his parents many times talk about how people have to cross the U.S. border and go through this everyday. He feels it is a way of experiencing that which his parents and others have done. He believes it is a Mexican tradition. He also plays it because he thinks it is funny. I think this has to do with the hitting involved. Kids often find violence funny.

La Migra is a fairly recent game. An exact author is unknown, although a few kids claim that they invented it. This is fascinating because I use to play a game similar to this one except instead of immigrants and the immigration, one team was the cops and the others were robbers. This game seems to be a spin off of the game I use to play as a kid. This is a great example of how much a child is effected by what he hears his parents say.