Customs and Traditions

Customs and Traditions

Traditions in Dolj county

The villagers in Oltenia - in general, and in Dolj - in particular are conservators of customs and traditions. Tradition here always meant something almost sacred, with strict rules and Christian consideration, with well-defined customs and habits, scrupulously respected.
The people here are proud, loving and sociable. They love their place of birth and do not hesitate to show it to those who want to see it. In the records of history, the population living up north from the Danube (the Getae) was first mentioned by Herodotus in the 4th century BC. The men were known for their courage in battle. Maybe that's why they have remained the main ethnic population in this region, despite all wars and many years of Roman colonization and the attacks of the migratory peoples. Their influences have left their traces in the vocabulary, customs, traditions and food of the Romanians.
The asking in marriage, the engagement customs, the understanding over the dowry and the leaving of the dowry chests from the bride's house, as well as the calling for the wedding and the feast are all elements of the ancient weddings in the old villages of Oltenia.
Easter is marked in Oltenia by ancient customs related to the faith in achieving a clean and renewed inner-self.
Among the most spectacular winter customs that are still performed today, there are: the swimming race of the men to bring the Holy Cross thrown by the priest in the water - found in Calafat and in other places along the Danube river; The "Baptizing of the horses", "The guarding of the wells " and the custom practiced by the girls who put basil under the pillow to dream their chosen one. From the archaic age, in Dolj people still keep the adornment of the firs in Ciupercenii Noi commune and "Walking the Ugly" only kept in Caraula commune on January 8. In Desa village people celebrate, on February 24, the ritual known as " The giddyup of the horses " or "The Horses of St.. Theodor".
The Dodola (Paparudele), The Fairies (Sânzienele or Drăgaica), the summer St. Peter, the Father of the Sun and the Mother of the Rain, the Covering of the bride, the St. Ilie's week, the End of harvesting and the Eating of the first new crop wheat bread are spectacular summer rituals.
All these rituals were and still are presented to the citizens of Craiova by groups of folk performers, during folk festivals which take place regularly in Craiova and in Dolj county.
For the people in Oltenia, the tradition represents a link to the past, put into value by the respect shown towards it and the perpetuation of the customs loaded with such deep meanings. On the streets of the villages, the celebrations throughout the year are veritable spectacles full of joy and colour, reminding of an idyllic world we would all wish to rediscover.

Photo and Text sources:;;

The Festival of the folk traditions on the Day of Călărași Commune – celebrated on the holy day of the Saints Constantin and Elena

The festival becomes, year after year, more and more a display of the authentic Romanian traditions. The folk costumes parade, with all the beauty of the costumes, of the songs and dances brings joy to those who come to see it.

The Parade of the Calus Dance – on the Pentecost day

Participants: groups of Calus dancers in Dolj and other areas where this ritual dance is performed
Kept alive by the authentic and pure origins of the folk genius passed on through time, dressed in the clean garment of traditions, adorned with the contributions of the generations, the Calus dance ritual has carved its dwelling in our culture, becoming an emblem of cultural identity of the Romanians, being declared by UNESCO as Universal Cultural Heritage.
For years, Craiova has been hosting the "Parade of the Oltenian Calus Dance" - expression of the fulfilling of a sacred debt to put into value this archaic monument of the popular culture, to maintain it and revive it.
Every year, on Pentecost Sunday, groups of calus dancers in Dolj, but also from other counties where the dance is performed, accompanied by clinks of bells and the unmistakable "hălăişa" shoutings, prove the mastery of their ritual dance, offering wormwood and health to the viewers met on the streets of Craiova and, later on, on the alleys of the "Nicolae Romanescu” Park where these carriers of the archaic rhythms bring to an end their meeting with the locals with a special show.
During this event in Craiova, the group of calus dancers from Dolj worthy to represent the county in the great Romanian Calus Dancers Festival in Caracal is also selected.

Obs. For further documentation, see Archive of CJCPCT Dolj (

The ”Summer Traditions” Festival - July, around the day of St. Ilie

Participants: groups, bands, ensembles, vocal and instrumental soloists (rhapsodes)
Every season has its specific customs and traditions related to the activities of the Romanian rural world; the best known are the winter traditions, but also in the summer there are some local traditions related to the Fairies Night (Sânzâiene or Drăgaica), or in the harvest period, or for invoking rain during long droughts, the Dodola (Paparude), the kneading dough from the new harvest etc.

The Craftsmen Fair - October, around St. Dumitru

Participants: craftsmen across the country; folk ensembles from Dolj; vocal and instrumental soloists (rhapsodes), bands, brass bands, traditional folk music bands.
Annually, in Craiova, in the week under the sign of St. Dumitru - the spiritual patron of the town of Craiova, the municipality organizes large events, including the Craftsmen Fair where craftsmen from Dolj county, from the Oltenia region and from across the country are invited.
Outdoor performances take place where folk bands and ensembles are invited from the cultural centres across Dolj, and also vocal and instrumental soloists (rhapsodes), traditional folk music bands and brass bands.
During these spectacles, other can also bring their artistic contribution - amateurs from across the country who come at the Fair to sell their traditional products.
Obs. For further documentation, see Archive of CJCPCT Dolj (

"Ioana Radu" National Music Festival - November

Participants: vocal and instrumental soloists already renowned in different musical registers
The National Music Festival "Ioana Radu" is a tribute to the famous singer of ballads, daughter of Craiova.
The first edition was held in 1998 in the Moorish Room of the Minerva Palace in Craiova, where Ioana Radu has made her debut in the art of performing. There were two nights of romance and one of folklore: "I was a specialist in singing about ”the green leaf”, that was my job, I'm a folklore singer, you know! I'm folklore singer, that's what I learned in my father's house and that's what I liked doing."
The festival was meant to be an aesthetic landmark for the public and a remembrance of the old times.
At this festival, the participants have been already renowned soloists from different registers of music, but who also approached the difficult genre of the romance.
Obs. For further documentation, see Archive of CJCPCT Dolj (

"From ancestors and from good folks" Traditions Pageant - December, before Christmas

Participants: groups, ensembles of carol singers in Dolj and other regions in the country
Around the winter holidays, for many years in a row, Craiova has been hosting the Festival of Carols and Sacred Music with the participation of groups or ensembles from the cultural centres in Dolj county, choirs from the professional institutions in Craiova and other regions across the country.
Since 2008, this festival has turned into the event now called "From ancestors and from good folks" Traditions Pageant, coming down from the stage in an auditorium, right on the streets, in the middle of citizens.
During this ample event, the citizens of Craiova and Dolj county, in general, are offered, in addition to the carols and sacred music, other customs and traditions such as "The Herods" or "The Viclei" (a religious form of folk theatre related to the birth of the Holy Child in Bethleem) "Piţărăii" (the youngest of the carol singers who go from door to door to ask for bagels, nuts and apples on Christmas Eve), ”The Goat" (traditional colourful dance on the New Year's day), "Sorcova" (sang by children wearing a stick decorated with colourful artificial flowers, slightly hitting the back or head of their parents or acquaintances in the morning of the New Year, wishing them to be blessed with health and luck) "The Plough" (a traditional carol on the New Year's day wishing for abundant crops in the year which has just begun), "Lifting the children to the beam" ,"Going to the midwife "or "The Jordanizing" (Iordănitul) etc.
For the diversification of these artistic representations it is indicated to bring bands, groups or ensembles of customs and traditions from as many ethnographic areas in the county as possible and also from the diaspora, each guest group displaying the most representative traditions of his area of origin.
Obs. For further documentation, see Archive of CJCPCT Dolj (

”Maria Tănase” National Festival – competition show – once in 2 years

Participants: Romanian folk singers in the country and from the Diaspora
Please, visit the website of the:
Ample manifestation of the folklore culture, the Contest Festival of the Interpreters of Romanian folk songs "Maria Tanase", whose made its debut back in 1969, has become the most important launching platform for young performers of folk music from all over the country and beyond; in 2017 the 24th edition took place.
Named after the one that we used it call as "The Lady of the Romanian song", the Festival proved to be, in its 44 years of life, a veritable school for the hundreds of interpreters who came (and will continue to come) in Craiova, a practical lesson about the composition of the repertoire, choosing from among all the pieces found, the authenticity – with its incredibly attractive beauty and warmly embraced by the public. The stage appearance and the authenticity of the costumes are also key elements.
Edition after edition, hundreds of competitors came up on the stage of the Festival, people of an outstanding talent, allowing the assessment of their interpretation style and variety of folklore specific to the different regions and areas.
Away from having an interest in attracting attention to the entertainment feature of the event, the festival is committed to becoming more and more an act of knowledge and initiation, of valorisation of the national folklore heritage and of some talented people who prove the capacity to assert themselves. Thus, it did not take too long for the results to show: soloists as Ana Munteanu, Gheorghe Roșoga, Ionela Prodan, Filofteia Lacătușu, Maria Apostol, Tiberiu Ceia, Angelica Stoican, Maria Răchițeanu-Voicescu, Elena Jurjescu, Floarea Calotă, Vasilica Dinu, Maria Dragomiroiu, Matilda Pascal Cojocărița, Valeria Peter Predescu, Daniela Condurache, Liviu Vasilică, Ioan Bocșa, Grigore Leșe and many others, becoming well-known names throughout the country.
The competent members of the juries made of the "Maria Tanase" Festival the most strict and rough contest in this field, as demonstrated, over time, by the career pursued by its laureates.
The Festival in Craiova also includes other related activities, them too full of individuality and value: the pageant of the folk costumes, the artisans' fair, sessions of communications, documentation exhibitions and/or book launches, seminars held by the organisers of the folklore shows etc.

„The Human Treasures in the Cross-Border Area”

„The Human Treasures in the Cross-Border Area” – a project being implemented in the Cetate commune since 2018, financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund within the Interreg V-A Romania - Bulgaria Programme, with a value of about 148,000 euros from the total value of over 174,000 euros; end date of the project: July 2019.

21st of March - The Day of Oltenia

It is the day we are invited to rediscover the traditions, history and customs in this area.

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