Merry Christmas Cluj

Andra, the Romanian pop and folk star, had a little sing-along on the aeroplane on the way from Bucharest to Cluj.  It seems that all the passengers sang along.

The fair under Avram Iancu appears to be closed, but there are still plenty of things to do in Cluj.

English subtitles are not available because on this occasion, she appeared to be singing in English.

Romanian word of the article – Colinde – carols, Christmas songs.  Or Christmas Carols, but Carol as in song, not Carol the King of Romania who brought the first Christmas tree to Romania in 1866.  I guess he was Christmas tree Carol.  (Colind(e) has other translations too.  I just hope you are reading this in English or at least that your translator doesn’t use slang definitions.)

Another popular Christmas tradition is groups of men carolling in shops, raising money for charities.  In the villages around Cluj, or even outside of your window if you look outside, you will see carolling in different costumes.

But why would a plane load of people be flying from Bucharest to Cluj to sing Christmas Carols?  The easy answer would be that they have family in Cluj, so they are celebrating Christmas here.  But that isn’t sensational enough for some of our readers.

According to Thursday’s “Jurnalul” (the Journal, a top Romanian newspaper), carolling has been limited in sector six of Bucharest, something that “not even Ceaușescu would have thought up.”  Unauthorised carolling in that sector is now considered “disturbing the peace.”

The old Romanian “colind” (Carol, Christmas song, not the other type of colind), goes like this.

Sculați gazde nu dormiți
(get up, host, do not sleep)
Vremea a să vă treziți
(It is time for you to wake up)

Other lines are harder to translate.  Automatic translators do word-for-word (motamot), but don’t understand the context.  This translation still isn’t perfect, but we think it makes more sense than old-man Google.

Casa sa vi-o arănjati,
(The house will be tidied up,)

Flori de măr
(apple blossoms)

Și masa s-o încărcați
(and the table filled with food)

(more verses can be found at The rest can be translated electronically with more sense.)

When carolers come to your door, it is the tradition to give them covrigi (translated as both bagels or pretzels, but usually pretzels) or other baked goods, nuts, candies or fruit (such as apples).  More recently, money has been given.  According to Jurnalul, those guests who refused to open doors to carollers or who refused to give them a treat for carolling were cursed with a reputation of being anticolind, or anti-caroler.

The newspaper continues that the tradition dates back almost two centuries, and not even the Bolsheviks were able to stop it.  But the new law puts regulations on carols, that they have to follow basic rules.  Of course, carolling is limited to 6-31 December (yes, they can still carol after Christmas), and other regulations are being put in place.

Carollers can be quite loud, and some people are put off by the drums and whips, apparently. (or so the new law assumes).  Normally, carollers will just leave if you don’t open the door.  Now, there are limits.  Music can be made with live voices or instruments, but recordings are prohibited, that is not the strange part.  Apparently, before carolling, carollers need permission from each residents association.  “I am 52 and I never thought that if I wanted to take my grandchildren carolling I would need permission” from each group of residents, said Răzvan to the newspaper.  (No, I don’t know who Răzvan is either.)

There does not appear to be any limitations on carolling in Cluj, however.   (No, I still don’t know who Răzvan is.  It is a common name, maybe he took the flight to Cluj, to carol here.)

We have seen some people drop money out the window at passing carollers, dressed up in furry bear-like suits.

Merry Christmas to you, Răzvan, Merry Christmas to carollers and King Carol and to anyone who happens to be reading this.  And a Happy New Year.

How do you say Merry Christmas in the top languages spoken in Cluj?

🇷🇴Crăciun fericit.

🇶🇦 عيد ميلاد مجيد!

🇯🇲 Happy Christmas!

🇫🇷 Joyeux Noël !

🇮🇹 Buon Natal!

Boldog Karácsonyt!

🇳🇵मेरी क्रिसमस!

🇵🇹Feliz Natal!

Bahtalo Krechuno!

🇺🇦 Щасливого Різдва!

🇻🇳Chúc Giáng Sinh Vui Vẻ!

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Nadolig Llawen!

Did we leave your language out?  Let us know how you celebrate Christmas, and we can add it here.

P.S. Here is another traditional “Colindă de crăciun” with the same first line, sung by Andra and another top Romanian singer, Paula Herlo.  Sărbători fericite.

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