Men’s group Colindat, Christmas-time ritual
Republic of Moldova and Romania
Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Each year before Christmas, groups of young men gather in villages throughout Romania and the Republic of Moldova to prepare for the ritual of Colindat. On Christmas Eve, they go from house to house performing festive songs. Afterwards, the hosts offer the singers ritual gifts and money. The songs have an epic content, which is adapted to each host’s individual circumstances. Ritual performers also sing special, auspicious songs for unmarried girls and dance with them – a practice said to help them find a husband within the next year. Colindat is sometimes performed in costume, with instrumental accompaniment and choreography. Groups of young men (traditionally unmarried) are the main bearers and practitioners of the element; experienced men, often former group leaders, are responsible for the group’s training. The ritual songs are learned at daily rehearsals from the time the group is formed until Christmas Eve. In some areas, children are allowed to attend these rehearsals in order to learn the repertoire. As well as conveying the season’s greetings, this cultural heritage plays an important role in preserving social identity and ensuring cohesion.