Flower Moon and Lunar Folklore

flower moon and lunar folklore

According to lunar folklore, the full moon of May is the Flower Moon. On May 7 we can see the last full supermoon of 2020. The full moon will last only a moment, at 6:45 a.m. EDT (1145 GMT) on Thursday May 7, when the side of the moon that faces Earth will be fully illuminated by the sun.

The Story of How the Moon Came to Be

There was once a beautiful maiden and she was the Sun’s sister. Her name was Ioana Samziana. She had long, silky hair and so blond that it was almost white. She was tall and gracious and she had a beautiful, alabaster, round face. The Sun loved his sister so much, a bit too much some say. So he turned himself into a human and came to ask her to marry him.

But as he changed, he lost all memory of who he really was. He only remembered his love for this Maiden. He searched for the woman he loved, and traveled for nine years, along nine roads. Until he found her. Samziana liked the human, but something in her heart told her she should not marry him. So she ran away. Alas, he followed her, traveling through Heavens and through Hell, until he found her again.

Eventually, she gave in and agreed to marry him but asked he build her a bridge of copper, over a sea of black , for she knew of a monastery on the other side. Where they could marry.

Once on the bridge, the girl threw herself into the sea. She became the foam of the waves and, as the saints scoop it in their hands, Samziana turned into the Moon. And this is how the Moon came to be.

And the human became the Sun again. And they never saw each other again.

No wonder the moon has been personified as a deity, think of Greek goddesses Artemis, Selene, and Egyptian god Thoth.

Flower Moon, Lunar Folklore and Superstitions

It is said that if you’re been born during a full moon you won’t know any shortages all your life.

A church service aimed at good health is much more effective during a full moon.

Of course, spells benefit from the full moon, its light and energy amplifying their powers.

For good luck for the rest of your life, fill a green bowl with water and leave it outside under the full moon. Next day, use the water to wash yourself and no harm will come to you, ever – is the folk belief.

If you wish to fall pregnant, stand under the light of the full moon for as long as you can and your wish will come true. Some folk believe that the fifth day after a full moon is the perfect time to try to conceive a child.

But the new moon is also a symbol of new beginnings, marking the ideal time for making new plans.

In Romanian folklore, New Moon is called Crai Now, New Prince. The night with a full moon is ideal for maidens to dream of their new beau. Step outside inti the light of the new moon, cross yourself three times and say
“New Moon, New Moon, let me drink the morning dew,
New Prince, New Prince, may I dream my one true love.”

Of course, wishes do come true under the new moon. Write your wish on a paper, burn it and throw the ashes towards the new moon. Your wish will come true.

flower moon and lunar folklore

A British legend says that if Christmas falls on the day of a dark Moon, the following year’s harvest will be rich.

In some parts of the British Isles it is believed that a waxing moon on Christmas meant a good crop the next fall, but a waning moon was a warning, indicated a bad one would come.

A lunar halo in folk belief meant that rain, snow, or other foul atmospheric conditions were on their way.

In some Chinese religions, offerings are made to the ancestors on the night of a full moon.

The moon has fascinated people since ancient times. Not only because of its beauty but also because of its influence on life on Earth.

Things you should not attempt during a New Moon:

Don’t move.
Don’t sit the hen on eggs.
Don’t get married.
Don’t go in trip after midnight.

Flower Moon Lunar Folklore

The New Moon an the Lunatics

Some 2 000 years ago, the Roman naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder claimed that the full moon affects the moisture in the brain and therefore all human emotions. Then, in the 17th and 18th centuries, despite the fact that the Renaissance era moved away from superstitions, doctors such as Richard Mead and James Gibbs argued that certain periods of the solar and lunar cycles induce certain conditions, such as epilepsy and hysteria.

Did you know that the term “lunatic” derives from the Latin word “moon”?

Today, scientists are still debating on the full moon’s influence on the human psyche. Those who state that crime is on increase during full moon nights are reminded that street lights have been around for more than a century. Nevertheless, animals seem to exhibit a different behaviors during the full moon and this aspect cannot be ignored.

Ancient Month Names for the Full Moon

Flower Moon Lunar Folklore

January’s full moon is nicknamed Wolf Moon, after the howling wolves. Other names are Moon After Yule, Old Moon, Ice Moon.

February’s full moon is also called Snow Moon, easy to imagine why especially if you grew on or above the 45th parallel north.

March has the Worm Moon because of the earthworms that come out at the end of winter. Is is also known as the Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, or Lenten Moon.

April’s Pink Moon name comes from from the pink flowers – phlox – that bloom in early spring. Other names are Sprouting Grass Moon, Fish Moon, Hare Moon, Egg Moon, and also Paschal Moon because it is used to calculate the date for Easter (falling on the first Sunday after the March Full Moon – as long as the March equinox and Paschal Full Moon coincide).

The May Full Moon is known as Flower Moon, symbolizing the flowers that bloom during this month. Other names are Corn Planting Moon or Milk Moon.

June’s Full Moon is called Strawberry Moon. How sweet! Other names are Hot Moon, Mead Moon, and Rose Moon.

July’s Full Moon is called Buck Moon, after the new antlers that emerge on deer buck’s foreheads around this time. It is also known as Thunder Moon, Wort Moon, and Hay Moon.

In August, the Full Moon is called Sturgeon Moon because of the large number of fish in the lakes where the Algonquin tribes fished, in North America. Other names are Green Corn Moon, Barley Moon, Fruit Moon, and Grain Moon

September‘s Full Moon is Harvest Moon. Most years it is in September, but every three years September borrows its full moon to October. Other names for September’s Full Moon are are Corn Moon or Barley Moon. October’s Full Moon is also called Hunter’s Moon, Dying Grass Moon, Blood Moon (not the total Lunar Eclipse) or Sanguine Moon.

November’s Full Moon is nicknamed Beaver Moon, since beavers become active preparing for winter. It is also known as Frosty Moon, or Oak Moon. When the Beaver Moon is the last Full Moon before the winter solstice, it is also called the Mourning Moon.

Lastly, December’s Full Moon is called the Cold Moon, or the Moon Before Yule, or the Wolf Moon (more common used for the January’s Full Moon).

The Difference between Full Moon, Supermoon, Dark Moon and New Moon

Full moon refers to the moment when the moon’s Earth-facing side is fully illuminated by sunlight. Supermoon is the same, but the moon must be the closest to Earth.

A Dark Moon happens when the moon is between the Earth and the Sun (in conjunction with is the term) and it appears dark to us. But astrologers call this a new moon because it marks the beginning of a new moon cycle. You will not find a dark moon in the moon phase calendars.

But the Pagan’s New Moon, the one that counts for moon followers, is when the moon begins to show the tiniest illumination, its waxing, and it happens after the dark moon (that we cannot see).

A new moon refers to the moment when the moon’s Earth-facing side is fully in shadow. (Unfortunately, that means the Black Moon will be more or less invisible, even if the moon is high in the sky). 

The Moonbow

A moonbow is just like a rainbow, but appearing at night. It involves the way the light refracts. A moonbow will only be seen in the part of the sky opposite of where the moon is visible.

Next supermoom (90% closeness to Earth) will be visible in April 2021 only.

Nevertheless, the full moon carries, apart from its own visible halo, an invisible one of mystery and magic, tied to the ebbs and flows of the tide, as well as the human body, and our intuition. Whether we want it or not, the moon will probably light our footsteps for many more cycles to come.

Flower Moon Lunar Folklore

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Angela Gheorghiu performs Tatăl Nostru in a deserted Bucharest

Renowned Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu performed ‘Tatăl Nostru‘, Pater Noster or the Lord’s Prayer, accompanied by Romanian violonist Alexandru Tomescu in front of the Romanian Atheneum, in a deserted Bucharest.

I would like to share her performance with you and take you through a few places of my native Bucharest.

The recording was made on 19 April 2020 by Pro TV, Romania’s most watched private television network.

‘During such times, I wish everyone courage, love and hope!’ (Angela Gheorghiu).

Alexandru Tomescu performed on a Stradivarius Elder-Voicu violin on loan from the Romanian government until 2023 – a privilege won through a contest. The violin is listed as a national patrimony item. It was manufactured in 1702 and purchased in 1956 by the Romanian state to be used by violinist Ion Voicu. In 2007, it was estimated at USD 1.2 million.

Composer: Anton Pann
Producer: Sabina Ulubeanu
Sound: Andrei Kerestely
A PRO TV (2020) production.

I have to admit I am a big fan of Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu. I think she is not only gorgeous, but talented too. Nothing comes without hard work and sacrifice though, and she proved it more than once. Since her professional debut in 1990, she has performed in leading roles of several operas at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, London’s Royal Opera House, the Vienna State Opera, Milan’s La Scala, and many other opera houses in Europe and the United States. She has a substantial discography primarily with EMI Classics and Decca and is especially known for her performances in the operas of Puccini.

The Romanian Athenaeum is the-most-gorgeous-concert-hall-ever. Of course is located in Bucharest! The building was designed by the French architect Albert Galleron, for the Romanian Atheneum Cultural Society and built on a property that belonged to the Văcărescu family (one of the oldest noble families of Wallachia, now Romania). It was inaugurated in 1888. The construction showcases the neoclassical style typical for the era with some romantic touches. The Romanian Atheneum is a symbol of Romanian culture and an European Heritage Site as well as one of Seven Wonders of Romania.

Bucharest is my home town so this recording is special to me. I have never seen this city so deserted during day time. If you don’t know, Romania is one of the safest countries to live in.

Follow me through the video.

Calea Victoriei walking towards Lipscani and Dambovita River. On the left is a Pizza Hut we love to visit whenever we get a chance.
Regina Eisabeta Street towards Mihail Kogalniceanu square. The Cismigiu Park must be on the right side.
View from the Romanian Atheneum towards the Royal Palace hoousing the National Museum of Art (left) and Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest Hotel (right). Stirbei Voda Street ahead.
Angela Gheorghiu in front of the Romanian Atheneum. Notice the Ionic columns on the right. Their proportions are similar to those of the Erechtheion Temple on the Acropolis.
Angela Gheorghiu accompanied by Alexandru Tomescu in front of the Romanian Atheneum. Note the neoclassic facade.
View from thee Romanian Atheneum towards the Royal Palace and George Enescu square.

Romanian Atheneum above, Cismigiu Park below – I have never seen Cismigiu so deserted. Cismigiu is lovely in summer for a stroll in the shade or a leisurely row and fantastic in winter for ice skating all day long and under the spotlight in the night.

An amazing view of the Romanian Atheneum in the center, its park in the front with the round cupola, Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest Hotel in the left with a reddish roof.
Angela Gheorghiu accompanied by Alexandru Tomescu in front of the Romanian Atheneum in the afternoon light. Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest Hotel in the background. A gorgeous contrast of light and creeping shadows.
Hats off to Sabina Ulubeanu and the camera crew.
Calea Victoriei at Revolution square, the equestrian statue of King Carol I, Royal Palace on the right.

A Rose by any other Language on Shakespeare’s Birthday

red roses on Shakespeare's Birthday

A Rose by Any Other Language or finding a suitable translation to ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet‘ in various languages to celebrate the Birthday of William Shakespeare, believed to have born on this day, the 23rd of April, in 1564.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” are words spoken by Juliet in the famous balcony scene of Act II, Scene II of Romeo and Juliet. The line refers to Romeo’s house, Montague, and it implies that his name (and thus his family’s feud with Juliet’s family, the Capulets) means nothing to her and they should be together.

A name is but a label we affix to an object or a person. Its intrinsic value is not / should not be affected by it. Individuals or things are worth what they carry inside. Thus, even if we call a rose by an entirely different name, it would smell the same as it does by its name “rose.”

By extension, to show someone how important they are to us, we give them nicknames, and we often give our pets human names, to show that in our eyes they are valuable, equal members of our family.

But is Juliet right to minimize the importance of names? And isn’t this line perhaps summarizing the entire tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, the play? Words have power and undermining their power can be a dangerous act. (More on this idea in a future blog post.)

One of the most quoted line from Shakespeare it appears that in the format we know it today, A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, was edited into the text of the play during the 18th century by Irish editor by Edmond Malone.

But does it really matter?

 A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. William Shakespeare quote - a pink rose opening, three pink buds behind, the idea of sweetness implied, Rose Language Shakespeare Birthday
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. William Shakespeare

A Rose by Any Other Language on Shakespeare’s Birthday

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’

Un trandafir cu orice alt nume ar mirosi la fel de dulce.’ (Romanian)

‘Ce que nous appelons une rose, sous tout autre nom sentirait aussi bon.’ (French)

Das, was wir eine Rose nennen, würde bei jedem anderen Namen genauso süß duften.‘ (German)

”n Roos by enige ander naam ruik net so soet.’ (Afrikaans)

Zou een roos minder zoet geuren als ze een andere naam zou dragen?‘ (Dutch)

a Shakespeare rose quote using emoji, Rose Language Shakespeare Birthday
A Shakespearean rose quote using emoji

Una rosa por cualquier otro nombre olería tan dulce.‘ (Spanish)

‘Aquilo que chamamos de rosa por qualquer outro nome, teria um cheiro tão doce.’ (Portuguese)

Ciò che chiamiamo rosa anche con un altro nome conserva sempre il suo profumo.‘ (Italian)

‘To, co zowiem różą, pod inną nazwą równieby pachniało.’ (Polish)

‘то, что мы называем розой любым другим именем будет пахнуть, как сладкий.’ (Russian)

Ajo që ne e quajmë trendafil me cdo emër tjetër do te kishte gjithsesi erë të ëmbël.‘ (Albanian)

‘”mis tahes teise nimega roos oleks lõhn nagu magus’ (Estonian)

det som vi kaller en rose av noen andre navn ville lukte så søt.‘ (Norwegian)

‘Αυτό που ονομάζουμε τριαντάφυλλο, με οποιοδήποτε άλλο όνομα θα μύριζε εξίσου ωραία.’ (Greek)

‘Hiyo ambayo tunaiita rose kwa jina lingine yoyote inge harufu kama tamu.’ (Swahili)

‘Güle başka isim tarafından gül dediğiniz gibi tatlı kokardı.’ (Turkish)

If you know how to say ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ in a different language to add it in comment below and let’s celebrate Shakespeare and his Birthday together 🙂

As always, you can find all my books on Amazon.

One World: Together At Home #OneWorldTogetherAtHome

one world together at home a poem

One World: Together At Home is an unique, never before seen world wide event in support of health care workers and World Health Organization (WHO).
This is my acrostic poem.

On the day when the world turned outside-in,

None went outside, we were all forced within,

Enclosed between walls we once called a home

With our loved ones close, yet all alone.

On the day when most likely to happen

Remained inside a book and the unknown

Lived among us, with no face and no form,

Desired by none, the unwanted guest

That stuck to every thought, cornering hope

On the last step of a tower of soap.

Gravel underfoot, being in a crowd

Ever happened? Was a dream saved on cloud?

That day, nameless for us, for them meant fight,

Humble in white or blue, up dawn to night

Emerging in a mask to fight the plague;

Routine, for them, is stop faceless outbreak.

Attack, advance, retreat, regroup, surprise;

Thread gently, beam, cheer up, engage, excite.

Halt the pandemic, lock it in glass vile

Once and for all. We watch from a safe mile.

Meet us for a hug outdoors thereafter

Edit life for now, put back the laughter.

One World: Together At Home, a poem © Patricia Furstenberg

Have you watched the One World: Together at Home on the 18th of April?

My favorite performance must have been the one by Jennifer Lopez performing “People” (this classical Barbra Streisand song).
One World: Together at Home, J Lo, “People”:

You can watch the entire One World: Together at Home show here on YouTube.

Artists featured in the broadcast included:

  • Alicia Keys
  • Amy Poehler
  • Andrea Bocelli
  • Awkwafina
  • Billie Eilish
  • Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day
  • Burna Boy
  • Camila Cabello
  • Celine Dion
  • Chris Martin
  • David & Victoria Beckham
  • Eddie Vedder
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Elton John
  • FINNEAS
  • Idris and Sabrina Elb
  • J Balvin
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • John Legend
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Keith Urban
  • Kerry Washington
  • Lady Gaga
  • Lang Lang
  • Lizzo
  • LL COOL J
  • Lupita Nyong’o
  • Maluma
  • Matthew McConaughey
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Paul McCartney
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Priyanka Chopra Jonas
  • Sam Smith
  • Shah Rukh Khan
  • Shawn Mendes
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Taylor Swift
  • Usher

Artists featured on streaming platforms included:

  • Adam Lambert
  • Andra Day
  • Angèle, Anitta
  • Annie Lennox
  • Becky G
  • Ben Platt
  • Billy Ray Cyrus
  • Black Coffee
  • Bridget Moynahan
  • Burna Boy
  • Cassper Nyovest
  • Charlie Puth
  • Christine and the Queens
  • Common
  • Connie Britton
  • Danai Gurira
  • Delta Goodrem
  • Don Cheadle
  • Eason Chan
  • Ellie Goulding
  • Erin Richards
  • FINNEAS
  • Heidi Klum, Hozier
  • Hussain Al Jasmi
  • Jack Black
  • Jacky Cheung
  • Jack Johnson
  • Jameela Jamil
  • James McAvoy
  • Jason Segel
  • Jennifer Hudson
  • Jess Glynne
  • Jessie J
  • Jessie Reyez
  • John Legend
  • Juanes
  • Kesha
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Lang Lang
  • Leslie Odom Jr.
  • Lewis Hamilton
  • Liam Payne
  • Lili Reinhart
  • Lilly Singh
  • Lindsey Vonn
  • Lisa Mishra
  • Lola Lennox
  • Luis Fonsi
  • Maren Morris
  • Matt Bomer
  • Megan Rapinoe
  • Michael Bublé
  • Milky Chance
  • Naomi Osaka
  • Natti Natasha
  • Niall Horan
  • Nomzamo Mbatha
  • P.K. Subban
  • Picture This
  • Rita Ora
  • Samuel L Jackson
  • Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Sebastián Yatra
  • Sheryl Crow
  • Sho Madjozi
  • SOFI TUKKER
  • SuperM
  • The Killers
  • Tim Gunn
  • Vishal Mishra
  • Zucchero

Animals in Romanian Folklore and Mythology

The way in which animals and nature are presented in folklore and mythology can tell us a lot about a nation’s cultural profile. Although in most cultures we encounter the belief that all animals were created / put on earth by a higher divinity to teach humans a lesson and challenge them, animal symbology and legends can vary.

Some cultures and religions believe that the man was created to rule over all the animals. Other cultures believe that animals are manifestations of a divine power. During medieval times Christian beliefs in a hierarchical structure of all matter and life emerged, The Great Chain of Being, an idea that humanity (with the king at the top) is a subdivision situated above animals (with the lion at the top).

Folklore and mythology are the domains where explaining and understanding real life events was done by the use of animals as symbols – thus creating a microcosmic representation for easier comprehension of something that seemed larger than life. The explanations become story lines and new situations and events are understood and can be dealt with only if explained though the prism of an archaic vision with its social norms, moral values, and traditions.

Animals in Romanian folklore and mythology are considered to have a positive interaction with humans (the farm animals, the ones humankind relied on), but they can also threaten and challenge us (the wild beasts), as well as be conferred fabulous, mythological powers (exotic animals).

oxen
Nicolae Grigorescu, Carul cu Boi – Cart with Oxen

The cow and the ox as white animals

In Romanian folklore the cow and the ox were seen as holy in the sens that even God loved them and bestowed upon them the gift of speech, one day a year, like people.

White symbolizes their purity and their economical value in working the field, as means of transport, as well as being a source of various foods.

Cow, as a symbol, stands for prosperity, fertility, and obedience. In folktales the cow defies evil and helps enrich the hero.

The ox is held on higher regards than the cow, seen as the farmer’s symbol of strength and wealth therefor an ox must never be sold.

The cow and the ox in folklore

In Romanian folklore, to protect a cow you can tie a red ribbon around one of her horn; you can feed her magical grains; you can hide in the shed various lucky items; and if you do milk the cow then you must fast during specific dates of the year so the cow won’t run out of milk.

At Christmas time, the best carols are the ones wishing the host to have lots of healthy cows.

In Romanian folk songs love’s value and meaning can only be compared to that of a cow.

On Pentecost, Rusalii, 31st May, custom asks to decorate an ox (symbol of fertility) with flower garlands and bells.The lads would then take the ox for a stroll around the village, from one house to the next, and the ox would be sprinkled with water (another symbol of fertility). The flower garland that decorated the ox was to be kept safe so that the field would be fertile that year.

Animals in Romanian Folklore and Mythology
Tradition of decorating the ox on Pentecost, Animals in Romanian Folklore and Mythology

Superstitions involving the cow

When a cow is about to have her calf, put some wheat, lemon, salt and pepper in a red cloth and tie it to the cow’s tail to keep the bad spirits away.

Don’t hit the cow with a pitchfork or she’ll have a bowlegged calf.

If you want to find out the year you will marry, go to the stables and kick the cow that’s lying down, saying ‘this year… I shall marry.’ If the cow stands, you have your answer. If she doesn’t, chose another year and kick her again… gently 🙂

The oxen can speak on the day of Saint Vasile, 14 January, and you can hear them do so if you go to bed in the manger – but you better watch out as you might not like what you hear.

The sheep was from God

The sheep, good, soft and gentle, could only have been God’s gift to all humankind. All you need to do when you are sick is touch the sheep to feel better.

Romanian folktales say that God Himself walks the sheep to pasture, and He plays the flute, feeling happy and content. Sheep are helpers, protectors and, in more than one instances, messengers of God – as is the lamb in the myth of Miorita.

The ram, with its golden fleece and painted horns at Christmas time is also a reason of joy and pride.

Animals in Romanian Folklore and Mythology
Ştefan Luchian – Cioban cu oi, Shepherd with Sheep

Folk rituals involving the sheep and the ram

On Sângeorz day, Saint George, on 23rd April and especially in the province of Moldova, shepherds sprinkle their sheep with water, to be abundant in milk.

On Rusalii, in Transylvania, the sheep are jumped over a life-giving fire (smoked), to protect them against evil spirits.

During the midsummer celebration of Sânziene or Dragaica (24 June), rituals involving sheep and flowers are performed.

The sacred sheepfold

Romanian folklore sees the sheepfold as sacred as a church altar. Millennial old rituals take place here and inherited tools play a sacred role, tools that are never removed from the spot, tools decorated with the symbols of the sun, the earth, the cosmos, or the heaven’s holy gates… The sheepfold’s hearth, where the fire had been burning for generations, is on high regards. For this reason, in its foundation one will find the bone of an ancestor, of a warrior who fought against the enemy of the country or against the wild beasts; a sacred bone, for the same reason one would bury the bones or relics of saints in the foundation of churches.

The sheep is sacred too. Touch it and any bad spirits that bothered you will leave.

Animals in Romanian Folklore and Mythology, sacred sheepfold
Animals in Romanian Folklore and Mythology – the Sheep

The bells hanging around the sheep’s necks, of various sizes, based on a rigorous hierarchy, are in harmony with the shepherd’s flute, with the song of the forest streams and with the rustle of the wind through the leaves and across the grassy planes.

Any sheepfold has a knapsack containing, at any given time, bread, holy water from the church or sanctified by a log from its holy hearth, as well as flowers kept from the Sânziene celebrations – all necessary during various rituals.

No one leaves a sheepfold without the smallest of gifts; a piece of cheese, a pipkin of milk, or at least a piece of bread for the road. Gifts from the heart.

The goat is a whole different story

The goat came from the devil, it is said in the Romanian folklore.

The myth of how the goat came to be

God took a handful of earth and created the sheep. So the devil wanted to do the same. He scraped some ground from the marsh, barely a handful and, not knowing what to do further, he decorated it with branches and shoots of grass instead of fur. He found his creation to be just as perfect as God’s. Yet something was missing… so he added a tuft of grass shooting from the goat’s chin, much like his own. Yet he couldn’t bring it to life. That was something only God could do.

Romanian folklore says that it is the horned scoundrel that takes care of goats, chasing them over the fields that they never sit still and he’s also the one that cuts their fur; that’s why it is all erratic and in tufts and uneven. You just have to take care of one and see for yourself.

Superstitions involving the goat

If you are gifted a goat on Saint Vasile, the angels will stay away from your home for fifty days.

Goats symbolize poverty as they eat a lot, stomp over grass and chew on all the green buds.

Caroling with the goat at Christmas time

Perhaps resonating of a pagan custom and definitely not related to the hellish imp is the winter custom of caroling with a goat mask while performing a ritualistic dance on a cheerful music to match the event.

Animals in Romanian Folklore and Mythology

The pig

Long ago, one creature cheated and lied to the gods so it was destined to grunt for a speech and to trundle through mud all its life.

The pig’s curse also says that the pig hates all humans, for he know he will be butchered, yet he forgets all about it whenever he is fed and joyfully stuffs itself.

Romanian Christmas custom asks for a pig to be slaughtered on Ignat, 20th December. It is said that, shortly before Christmas, the pig dreams of a sharp knife and stops getting fat. It is better to cut it or the wild beasts will have its meat.

It is also said that a farmer must see or, even better, spill the blood of a pig each year around Ignat to have wealth in the farmyard and on the fields the following year.

Superstitions involving the pig

The woman who doesn’t eat pig on Christmas Day or at Easter will have an easy childbirth.

On Ignat day, if you don’t see or at least hear the pig being slaughtered you should prick your finger so that you at least see some blood.

After the pig is slaughtered and cut, on Ignat, when the pig’s head is brought inside to be cooked, its snout must enter the house firs, for good luck and a rich litter of piglets in the new year.

Animals in Romanian Folklore and Mythology
The pig – Animals in Romanian Folklore and Mythology

The blessed donkey

Romanian folklore blesses the donkey for the donkey was blessed by Virgin Mary herself, after it carried her on its back all the way to Jerusalem, and later it carried Jesus too.

There is a heartwarming symbology behind the donkey’s mild appearance, an impulse to choose to be modest, devoted and unpretentious because big things will still cross your path.

The myth of how the donkey got its super-sized ears

Well, once when the donkey was but a foal he was a little bit naughty, walking at the back of the herd. So God scolded the beast for its incessant agitation and fret. Yet the young animal, like any young, pretended not to hear. God repeated Himself, the donkey said he still can’t hear Him. Being at the back of the group and all… So God pulled the donkey by its ears… And that’s why the donkey has such long hearing aids.

The horse

The horse is seen as a virile animal, a warrior yet often less valuable to a farmstead than a cow or an ox.

One must never eat the meat of a horse because it might have been ridden by a woman.

The dog and the cat

It goes without saying that the dog is loved by God for its qualities and his good and reliable nature, much as it is treasured by humans.

Romanian folklore says that the cat came to be from God’s glove, when He threw it on Noah’s Arch to catch the mouse.

The myth of why the cat and the dog fight

It is said that, long ago, the cat and the dog used to be married, yet the cat was a lazy and greedy wife, while the dog was a hard working husband. The two were always arguing with each other because of their different views and expectation of the world.

Superstitions involving the dog

If the dog digs in the yard, right in front of the house, it is a bad omen, foretelling death.

When there is thunder and lightning someone better sit next to the cat or the dog. Otherwise the devil might hide in their fur and the lightening will strike those nearby.

Animals in Romanian Folklore and Mythology, the wolf and the lamb
Animals in Romanian Folklore and Mythology, the wolf and the lamb

The two-faced wolf

Why two-faced? Because it has both positive and negative connotation, the wolf being good or bad, a friend or a foe – depending on the circumstances. Much like humans.

In Romanian folklore, the malefic wolf can be a pricolic or a vârcolacul. Pricolici are the spirits of malefic people who, awoken from their graves, take the shape of a wolf and roam the streets to harm whoever they meet. Vârcolacii are a general representation of all evil that hunts humankind and they can take a wolf’s appearance.

The positive connotation of the wolf is that of an animal-guide, accompanying the spirits of the dead to the netherworld.

There is a fascination story about the wolf as a symbol on the brave Dacian’s flag, the ancient inhabitants of the cultural region of Dacia, today Romania. But this is a story for another time.

Superstitions involving the wolf

If you caught shivers after a big fright, smoke around yourself the hair of a bear or the dung of a very hairy wolf.

If you travel under the new moon you better watch out for wolfs.

The two-faced snake

House snakes are seen as sending a positive vibe, not so the snakes one meets during various travels. This one you should kill (and not only for its Christian connotation), for ‘if you don’t it will turn into a dragon (balaur) in no less than two years time.’

One should not ‘believe the word of a snake’ or ‘harbor a snake in one’s bosom’, or harm will come in return. Snakes have strong connotations with magic and spells too. For example, cut with a silver coin the head of the first snake you see before Saint George day, put a clove of garlic in its mouth and on Saint George’s day it will help you see how vampires steal the milk from the cows.

The beasts showcased in Romanian folklore and mythology are fabulous and deserve separate attention or, who knows, their mythological powers might prove real. 🙂 Stay tuned.

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Scenes of Easter by Nerius

Easter Scenes by Nerius

Happy Easter and what better way to celebrate but with these Scenes of Easter by Blognese artists Nerius, ca 14th century. I think that from today this will be one of my favorite Easter images. There is something about medieval blue ink and gold that captures one’s heart and imagination!

This specific work was created for a community of Augustinian monks, for an Antiphonary (a book of plainsong for the Divine Office).

Nerius decorates the letter A. You will notice that the top of the letter is missing. By doing this, by opening it, Nerius exposed the figures to the heavens. Also, do notice that the A’s crossbar separates the earth and the group of singing monks (below) from the realm of heaven, where they obviously gaze (above). In heavens (perhaps as sung to by the monks) we notice God, seated above the clouds, and surrounded by angels.

The tiny detail of the monk’s attire, black habits edged in white at the neck, suggests the Augustinian monks.

Scenes of Easter by Nerius #history #art
Initial ‘A’ with Scenes of Easter by Nerius, ca. 1320

The scene weaves the accounts of two Gospels. Following Mark, the women approach the tomb of Jesus to anoint his body but find an angel at his empty tomb. According to Matthew’s report of what happened to two holy women on Easter Sunday, they meet Jesus as they leave.

Nerius executed this masterpiece (I think we can call it like this) using tempera, gold and ink on parchment. It is quite small, measuring at 23.9 cm x 23.8 cm.

Nerius’ signature is identical with the one he left on a legal manuscript for which Bologna, with its great university, was renowned. Thus rendering this artwork as his.

As always, know that my books, contemporary, historical fiction, poetry and kiddies ones too, are all available through Amazon.

The Holy Fire of Easter

holy fire easter

One of rituals that stands out at Easter time, especially for the Christian worshipers, is the lighting of the Holy Fire in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

It goes like this…

They prayed that Saturday morning, all the high priests and the small ones, believers and worshipers, then they killed all the candles from the Church ’till the light was so dim that only the rays of the holy sun that shone through the stained glass windows showed them the way around. And with two white strips of cloth that crossed one over another they sealed the entrance to the Holy Tomb and they put a wax seal too, for all to see that nothing and nobody will go inside – till the time was right.

Police guarded the sealed door too, for none to doubt.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, The Holy Fire of Easter
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

Later, the time had come. It is now.

But only one can step inside the chapel where the Holy Tomb is, the Patriarch. He is dressed like any other man, like the Man that once was and now is in Heavens, after He paid for our sins. He is dressed in a plain white sticharion, symbolizing the simplest of shrouds.

The simplest of shrouds for the purest of Men.

That through our belief in Jesus as the Son of God, and in his death and resurrection, God’s forgiveness was made once and for all through the death of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Patriarch disappears inside, and outside the door awaits a deacon, holding a gold chalice made of the purest gold. Yet nothing is pure enough for this purpose.

The Tomb of Christ, within the Cathedral of the Holy Sepulchre, from which the Patriarch of Jerusalem emerges with the Holy Fire. The Holy Fire of Easter
The Tomb of Christ, within the Cathedral of the Holy Sepulchre, from which the Patriarch of Jerusalem emerges with the Holy Fire.

Inside the Holy Tomb the Patriarch kneels and prays from all his heart and through him believers from inside the church and from all over the world pray. The prayers that were whispered in the morning, the day before and the week before, pour now through the Patriarch’s heart, towards the Holy Tomb. The marble slab atop the tomb is the same as it was two thousand years back, when He was laid to rest there and their hearts were heavy with grief. For they though they lost Him.

And the Patriarch prays further, his head on the Holy slab, his lips moving in silent prayer, a confidential prayer, for God only.

And outside the Holy Tomb everyone holds their breath in waiting.

In waiting of the Holy Fire.

Almost everyone. The Arab Christians run throughout the church clapping their hands, and with loud voices show their faith. They too, pray, they ask God to send the Light.

The Holy Fire.

It is said, by those who witnessed, pilgrims from the four corners of the world speaking as many languages as there are stars in heaven, or almost, it is said that while you wait quietly for the Patriarch to step outside with the Holy Fire… While you wait on your knees, or standing, or even seated… While you wait quietly, or praying, or crying… you feel, and everyone does, a breeze.

For a breath of air has flown over the Holy Tomb.

It is quick. Look for it one second too long and it is gone. By the time you ask yourself if you really felt it, it is gone.

And after it is gone, drops of light, sparks of blue-light fire dance on the holy marble slab of the Tomb. The Patriarch’s heart swells with joy, the same joy worshipers must have felt when He has Risen, and he gathers the dancing flames with his hands in a loving gesture. The same one you and I use when cradling the light of a candle. And he steps outside, holding the Holy Fire in his hands, and then setting it with care, with love and worship, in the purest gold chalice.

It does not burn his skin.

It does not burn anyone for 33 minutes.

Then, taking two bunches of 33 candles each, he lights them both from the Holy Fire and calls for all the worshipers in the Church, for the entire Christendom:

The Holy Fire at the Rotunda of the Cathedral of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday.
The Holy Fire at the Rotunda of the Cathedral of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday.

Come Receive the Light!

And everybody cheers and rejoices and the bells sing and the Patriarch, holding the Holy Fire, is carried on the worshipers hands around the Church for everybody to light their own candles from the Holy Light, and then to pass it on.

From candle to candle. From man to man. From believer to believer. They are Christian Orthodox, Roman-Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox…

The Holy Fire of Easter

The Holy Fire is taken, by special flight, to other orthodox countries: Greece, Romania, Georgia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia, being received by churches and millions of believers. And spreads from candle to candle, from hope to hope, from heart to heart.

From year to year, over the centuries.

The Holy Fire of Easter, a Memory

Each Easter Saturday, Sâmbăta Mare, the Saturday of Light or Holy Saturday, for as long as I remember of my life in Romania, my parents and I would walk to the church nearby, shortly before midnight, to receive the Light.

The vast church yard would be filled with people, young and old, neighbors and friends, my school friends and my parents’ friends, their relatives too, people standing in groups or alone, different in their dreams and ideals, yet all carrying a candle. Waiting, with hope in their heart, for the Holy Light. To see it. To share it, from one to the next. To take home.

The Holy Light is Hope. Hope for forgiveness. Hope for a blessed life. But it is also a common denominator. An equalizer. A reminder that we are all His children, we are not alone.

And so the Holy Light burns in our hearts for one more year. And forever.

Below is a 3 minutes video recording from the Metropolitan Cathedral, Iași, north-east of Romania.

Happy Easter!

PS Did you know?

Many Orthodox churches base their Easter date on the Julian calendar, which often differs from the Gregorian calendar that is used by many western countries. Therefore the Orthodox Easter period often occurs later than the Easter period that falls around the time of the March equinox. This year the Orthodox Easter will be celebrated on the 19th of April.

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