Saint Andrew’s Night – Dacian New Year

Today we celebrate in Romania Saint Andrew’s Night -  Dacian New Year 

Roman Dacia is (also known as Dacia Felix and Dacia Traiana), an ancient Roman province in modern Romania, after year 106 until 275 (106÷275). Dacia is an ancient geographic demarcation of central Europe, Kingdom of Dacians (in modern Romania), until the Great King Burebista and the king Decebalus. In ancient geography, especially in Roman sources, Dacia was the land inhabited by the Dacians or Getae.

Popular beliefs call the  night of November 29 – 30 Andrea, Indra or Andreiul of winter. Andreiul marks the transition from summer to winter, from light to dark, and the rituals attending the Geto-Dacian civilization indicate that this night to be represented and celebrated  as the New Year Geto-Dacian, corresponding to rustic  Dionisiacele and fermenting wine from Thracian population, as well as Brumalia celebration of the Roman Empire.

Ancestral popular calendar, which for most of us remain mysterious or unknown, went for millennia in parallel with Christian holidays, demonstrating not only the continuity of millennial traditions, but also the existence of our people since ancient times, on this region . These holidays related to religion, traditions and customs, most popular villages in the world, were despised and appealed to the liquidation in the nearly 50 years of communism.

Between November 13 and December 6, there are a series of celebrations Romanian tradition and ancient customs known as Fall Filipii – related to the ancient belief in periodic renewal time.

Celebrations dedicated to the Dacian sacred animal, The Wolf, were assimilated by the Christian tradition. They begin with Wolf Day (13 November), Gadinetii (12-16 November), continue with Philip The Lame or Ovidenia  (21 November) and ends with St. Andrew’s Day (30 November) and St. Nicholas Day (December 6).

Gadinet is the name of  winter divinity, The Wolf, and Filipii are divine personifications. In mysticism popular at this time is believed that the she-wolfs walked along the border villages and wine houses, ransacking the rubbish to find the embers burning, then they are eating  the embers and become more fertile.

The fact that the wolf can see in the night, he  turns into a positive symbol of light, fulfilling his role as guide.

As the day falls and the winter starts, evil spirits are more powerfull. Popular magic acts to protect against them, culminating with special night of St. Andrew.

Saint Andrew, patron of  Romania

 

Saint Andrew, the spiritual father of the Romanians was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, then followed Jesus became “the first called.” He preached in the land of Scythia Minor (Dobrogea), living in Constanta county territory today. He was martyred on 30 November, the year 60, during the reign of Emperor Nero, being crucified upside down on a cross-shaped X, which then is called “Cross of St. Andrew”

November 30, feast of St. Andrew has a special significance for the Romanian people because St. Andrew is the one who brought Christianity to our land, is considered the Saint Patron of Romania and romanians.

Habits about the night of 29/30 November, are a mix of the old Christian feast rituals with old  Dacian rituals. Dacian people think that St. Andrew is a deity, he became the personification of Divine Solar Wolf.

 

Traditions on the night of Saint Andrew

 

On the night of St. Andrew, who is also the first night of New Year Dacian, the heavens opened, so that now those seen can meet with the unseen, light with darkness, time is renewed, the chaos dies and is born the armmonia of the man and the universe. What’s inside, and outside is …

Now The Wolf has the highest power. This night is said to be the evil spirits night called in the popular tradition ghosts, or werewolves – have more power than the rest of the year and  they are coming to harm people. Therefore measures are taken to prevent such evil. Women bake pumpkin pies and cakes of corn, brush with garlic the doors and  the windows and the scythes are hidden. On the night of “Saint Andrew” people avoid to go outside. They stay in houses protected  by the garllic from entry and by light candle lit.

Boys and girls organized a party during which they “protect the garlic.” On Saint Andrew’s night, because transparency boundaries of the world, secrets are revealed, criminals and thieves are discovered.

The Wolf  in Dacian tradition

The Wolf Totem

 

The Dacians had The Wolf  Totem, the most ferocious animal in the area, one that can’t be tamed or trained. Fearless warriors, they identified with it, calling themselves the wolves (DAOS = WOLF in the Thracian-Phrygian dialect) or those who are like wolves.

About the Dacians flag (the body of dragon-headed wolf), N. Iorga (Romanian historian) said that it is “The essence of ancestral religion”. His appearance put fear among the  enemies. Ensign carry high The Dacian Flag who had on his body  mobile metal scales.

In horse gallop air entering through the mouth wide open of Wolf  making creepy noises, accompanied by the  noise of scales who are hitting each other. Fighters wore wolf or bear face masks and terrified the enemies with terrible sounds.

 

The Legend Of  The Great White Wolf,  The Protector of Dacia

 

Legend of White Wolf, servant of Zamolxis is surprisingly similar to that of the ancient Greeks Apollo. He had his temple on the island of Alba (Leuka), on the Black Sea (now the Isle of Snakes). Every fall Apollo withdrawn mysterious in Hyperboreans country to spend the winter. He was their leader called Lycantropul – White Wolf, deity revered sacred by our ancestors as the protector and savior in moments of need. To counter the belief in magical and mystical power of the wolf, primitive Christianity  invested St. Peter (Samedru) with attributes as the pastor of wolves (which are considered his dogs) together with the Apostle Andrew, who preached Christianity in “wolf territories” and was constantly watched by the Great White Wolf.

If you want to learn more about the Wolf Myth in Romania just click Werewolf Myth In Romania

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Bran Castle – The True Story

Bran is a well- known name on the tourist map of Romania, due to the famous castle, also called Dracula’s castle and to the beauty of the places. Built on a rock, Bran Castle has been towering over the old road between Transilvania and Wallachia for centuries. It was built by the citizens of Brasov during 1377-1378 for military purposes and as customs point. During the years 1395-1418 it got under the authority of the prince of Wallachia, Mircea the Old, then of his descendants. In 1427, it got under the authority of the King of Hungary, Sigismund of Luxemburg, and in 1448 it became the possession of Iancu of Hunedoara. The castle has no connection whatsoever with Vlad The Impaler, Dracula or Draculya, the Prince of Wallachia (1448,1456-1462,1476), the grandson of Mircea the Old.

The former might have stayed here, taking into account the punishment campaigns fought angainst the Saxons of Brasov or the people of Fagaras, supporters of his enemies. An authorian ruler, Vlad the Impaler was an outstanding military commander, who defended Wallachia and Christianity from the Ottoman danger. He employed harsh means against his enemies, punishing them ruthlessly by impaling them. Being in conflict with the Saxons of Brasov, the latter were leading a strong defamatory campaing against him, also continued after his death. Thus, his name was associated with the imaginary damned count of modern times, Dracula, the protagonist of the novel of the Irish writer Bram Stoker (19-th century).

Between 1498 and 1878 Bran Castle belonged to the twon of Brasov. In 1920, the inhabitants of Brasov offered it as a present to Queen Mary, who arranged it as a royal residence. Queen Mary was fond of Bran and the surroundings, of the ordinary people living there and the castle became her favourite residence.

During the communist time and up to the present, the castle was owned by the Romanian state, being a museum with three departments: of ethnography (in the open), of history and decorative art (in the castle) and the Customs Museum (in the building of the former customs office). Since May 2009, Bran Castle is a private property and it will become a private museum, apart from the Museum of Ethnography and the Customs.

Having few connections with Vlad the Impaler, the castle is associated with the modern myth of the vampire count Dracula which has become an important commercial and tourist product, wich here is being sold under the harsh image of the valiant prince. Of course, visiting the castle or watching its severe shape outlined against the sky, especially at night, it is easy to give free rein to our imagination and, thrilled, to let our thoughts fly to stories with vampires, ghosts and werewolves…….!

But Bran Castle is not the only attraction of the area. Bran is an entrance gate to a fascinanting realm between the Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains. To the south, gathered in valleys or scattered on the hill tops, the houses of the villages Moeciu, Magura, Pestera, Fundata, Sirnea, are paradise of rural tourism. Not far from the crowd and agitation of tourists round the castle, hiking on country roads or mountain paths, we enter a wonderful space. The panoramas of the Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains, the houses scattered on the hills, the hay fields and clusters of beech, birch or coniferous forests are delight four our eyes. Under the shelter of the mountains the peasants of Bran, who live their rough lives linked with animal breeding, have been lately converted more or less to the tourist exploitation of the area, so that the whole region is full of boarding houses and accommodation rooms for tourists.

No matter the season, Bran is an attractive tourist destination both for those who are fond of history, myths, ethnography or traditional romanian food, and for those who love nature and mountain hikes.

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The Tomb of Vlad The Impaler (Dracula)

Especially as a famous vampire character of Bram Stoker’s book, Count Dracula or Vlad  The Impaler was actually a Prince of Wallachia (a region located today in Romania known as Transilvanya). A defender of Wallachia against Ottoman Empire, Vlad was portrayed as a patriotic hero but also as a cruel and ruthless ruler. Vlad  Dracula was a ruthless leader who tortured and impaled between 40,000 and 100,000 of his enemies, Turks and Vlachs, who constituted a threat to his power and position. After three separate  turks rulers, were killed in the battle with Turks near Bucharest in 1476, turks cut his head  and sent him to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed II. The place of  the rest of his remains is unknown.

Theories

The widely accepted theory about Vlad’s tomb is that he was buried at the monastery of the island. However, after several  archaeological excavationes on the island, Vlad’s remains were not found. Another speculations says that Vlad’s remains were buried at the monastery Comana first time, however, the monastery was rebuilt in the seveenteenth century and have not found any debris there. Another teory is related to superstision, because of the legends about vampires that haunting those days Wallachia, Vlad’s body could have been moved anywhere to prevent and protect the monks of being killed in their sleep.

 

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