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Published:  December 22, 2009
 
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Slide 2: Romania's culture is the product of its geographical position and of its distinct historical evolution. It is fundamentally defined as the meeting point of three regions: Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, but cannot be truly included in any of them. The Romanian identity formed on a substratum of mixed Roman and Dacian elements, with numerous other influences. During late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the major influences came from the Slavic peoples who migrated and settled in nearby Bulgaria, Serbia, Ukraine and eventually Poland and Russia; from medieval Greeks and the Byzantine Empire; from a long domination by the Ottoman Empire; from the Hungarians; and from the Germans living in Transylvania. Modern Romanian culture emerged and developed over roughly the last 250 years under a strong influence from Western culture, particularly French and German culture. Besides representing the largest part of the remaining descendants of the Eastern Romans, Romania's history has been full of rebounds: the culturally productive epochs were those of stability, when the people proved quite an impressive resourcefulness in making up for less propitious periods and were able to rejoin the mainstream of European culture. This stands true for the years after the Phanariote-Ottoman period, at the beginning of the 19th century, when Romanians had a favourable historical context and chose the Western way of life, mainly French model, which they pursued steadily and at a very fast pace. From the end of the 18th century, the sons of the upper classes started having their education in Paris, and French became (and was until the communist years) a genuine second language of culture for Romanians. The modeling role of France especially in the fields of political ideas, administration and law, as well as in literature was paralleled, from the mid-19th century down to World War I, by German culture. That was true especially in Moldavia, whose many intellectuals studied in Berlin. In Transylvania and the Banat, the Habsburg rule and the presence of the ethnic German population (the Transylvanian Saxons and the Banat Swabians), in the local communities, triggered constant relationships with the German world not only at a cultural level but in daily life as well. The influence of the German space was felt especially in the humanities (philosophy, logics, philology, history) and technical
Slide 3: The garments are first meant to protect the human body against the weather. For this reason, the clothing is adapted to the seasons. In the winter it is thicker (fur and wool clothes) and it is thinner in the summer (especially hempen clothes). Garments have also a decorative purpose and a social meaning. They distinguish the peasant who wears them from the others. For example, the wedding dress of the maidens was a proof that the girls knew to sew and weave, which was a very important condition for marriage. Some garments could also indicate an occupation (the long leather cloak of the shepherds, worn on the shoulders, with the fur on the outside; their hood; the �chimir�, a large belt worn by those who worked in the wood) or the social status (only married women worn kerchiefs). The garments also indicate the age of the people. The youth is characterized by color and brightness. As the years go by, the peasant gives up the ornaments and wears more discrete clothes. Some garments have a ceremonial role. They are only made on specific occasions. The bride, helped by the girls from the village, was supposed to make the groom�s shirt in a single night. The �plague shirt� also had to be worked entirely in a single night. These clothes are only worn on special moments. At a wedding, the most beautiful decorated costume is worn (many times it is especially made for this occasion). In Transylvania there are places where both bride and groom wear wool clothes, no matter the season. The most characteristic element for the wedding is the bride�s head dress, worn only on that occasion. At the funeral, the deceased is dressed with the wedding clothes, which are especially kept for this purpose.
Slide 4: That is not to say that Romania does not have an identifiable cuisine, however, for it does. In most cases borrowed dishes have been localized, and in many cases vastly improved. An example is the classic Romanian sour soup, ciorba. Made of borş (a sour, honey- coloured liquid made of wheat and cornflour), the tradition of making sour soups is Ukrainian, but was perfected in Moldavia and later Muntenia. In theory anything can go into a ciorba, though the most popular are ciorba de legume (made with vegetables), ciorba de vacuta (made with beef), ciorba de burta (made with tripe), ciorba de perişoare (made with pork meatballs), or borş de miel (made with lamb, and popular at Easter). While you will often see ciorba de pui (ciorba made with chicken), chicken is more popular in clear soups, served with dumplings (galuşte), carrots and parsnips.

   
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