WINTER ACTIVITIES IN ROMANIA
I personally am the type of person who sometimes has a tough time resisting the cold and liking winter because of the fact that it gets dark really early, but one tool that i have been enjoying for the past few years was learning to actually submerge in the joy of winter activities.
My personal favorite winter activity is ice skating. Ice skating is one of the most challenging and grounding activities that you can participate in during the winter. It connects you to the earth beneath you and really makes you appreciate winter on a deeper level. There is nothing greater than not being able to go through your phone, and just having to be with your own thoughts and just enjoying the scenery around you.
The movement is also more than beneficial for you. The leg stretches and the breathing pattern that you follow make it so much better than just sitting in the house and the fresh air can really wake you up and give you a good boost of serotonin, especially if the activity takes place somewhere surrounded by nature.
The feeling of cutting through ice and moving so fast against the wind is sometimes a feeling that can stay with you for a while. It really makes you feel so powerfull and it makes you feel as if though you can make it through anything after you take your skates off.
In Bucharest, one of our most appreciated ice skating rinks was the one in Cismigiu Park.
The ice skating rink that I am talking about is one that is built on top of the earth where during the rest of the year there is a big and beautiful lake.
People love this ice rink because of its emotional value. It’s one of the oldest rinks in Bucharest, and it’s nice to think that maybe 50 years ago your grandma or grandpa also had fun on the same ice rink as you.
It’s also appreciated for the fact that the ice is a bit better than usual. It’s really easy to learn on that specific type of ice because it’s not watery, it’s not crowded, it’s not badly scratched and so there are less chances for you to take a fall.
Skiing is also one activity that fascinates me even though I have never skied. I have always wished that I could learn, but I never really had a chance. What made me truly realize how important of a cultural aspect skiing is, was this moment last summer when I went to Georgia with Erasmus. Last summer I went to Georgia in an Erasmus + project, and on the first day our trainer gave us a challenge. We had to be paired in teams and then we had to go around our little town where we were situated and we had to find out as much information from the locals as possible. The questions were mostly “Why does Georgia’s flag look like that?”, “What is your favorite Georgian tradition?” etc. We were doing a great job talking to this old lady with the help of a translator when suddenly we meet the father of a worldwide skiing champion. His son was such a big name in the world of winter sports and they all lived in a tiny and crowded house in a little town, but their home was actually filled with gold medals.
They had full walls tapestried with medals and trophies, it looked amazing. We found out from the champion’s father that we were actually in Bakuriani, one of the most valuable skiing places in the world and that actually many valuable sportsmen were built in that little town. It really made me think about how maybe Eastern European people have so much fun during the winter and I sometimes think about how healthy our coping mechanisms are when we struggle to get through a hard winter. In Romania there is a big culture around skiing as well. We have skiing sites in almost every touristic place in the mountains.
From what I know, the most popular one would be “Kalinderu”, but correct me if I’m wrong. If you are one of the people that has never skied, know that you are appreciated too!
I love going “skiing” with my friends, watching them be so happy and enthusiastic while I am enjoying an (almost) boiling cup of mulled wine and breathing in the cold air. Also, you can always get a sleigh and remind yourself how you were enjoying winter as a kid and have fun while your friends are skiing or snowboarding!
Now we get to my favorite part of winter, the one that has truly turned my childhood into a very special experience. Caroling. Caroling to me is such a powerful spiritual experience, especially when the singing is done in a group. I feel like singing creates a good bond between children, I think that it also disciplines them and give them some sort of artistic sense and also I think that it is the best way through which children can learn about God and about the true meaning of Christmas. I feel like sometimes, during the winter, it can be kind of confusing to explain to your child everything about why we celebrate Christmas and why people are so invested in their traditions, but I feel like carols give children such a pure, lighthearted and full explanation of the whole meaning of Christmas.
In Romania, when we go caroling we usually receive tangerines, nuts or pretzels (but a specific type of pretzel that is way crunchier and simple in its appearance). Also, one very important thing that I have noticed us Romanians taking seriously is never forgetting to sing to your parents and grandparents as a child. Most people tend to think that the tradition of caroling only takes place in the village parts of Romania, but we also do it in the big cities. When I was little I used to go with my friend group from apartment to apartment and just sing to the lovely people that opened the door to us.
Cooking is also a great winter activity because after all the caroling and skiing and ice skating, we all deserve a good gingerbread house or a big tray of sweet bread cooked in the company of our most loved people. In Romania we love cooking sarmale, sweet bread, boeuf salad and other amazing dishes, but these are usually cooked by the best chefs in the world (grandmas and mothers). I have noticed that people my age tend to prefer cooking simpler things such as cupcakes, pastries, cake pops or gingerbread, which are also amazing foods to indulge in on cold winter evenings.
Another amazing winter activity is snowball fighting. You might think that snowball fights are an activity designed to children, but I beg to differ. Last winter my friends and I went to Busteni and one morning we decided to wake up and go outside to have a snowball fight. We were two teams of about ten people and we had so much fun. It’s another great exercise that can warm you up and cheer you up during a foggy winter morning, and it can get pretty intense!
We usually tend to forget that at one point we were children as well and we tend to get caught in this pattern of waiting for winter to be over because you don't want your car’s window shield to freeze, or you don’t want to spend a lot of money on presents, or you don’t want to get cold and so on. I think that we as young people should learn to sometimes get back to our younger selves and really just let go for a while. Winter is such a magical time, despite the cold and the fact that it gets darker earlier and we should really start appreciating the cold and being in tune with our younger selves.