What Are The Romanian Rites Of Passage?

Romania has long been associated with bloodthirsty vampires, witches and wizards. Thanks to Bram Stoker, Romania’s mysterious lands became famed for dark crafts and fictional creatures. Although some stories are nothing but the result of imagination, Romania is a place of myths, symbolism and strong traditions. Here are some intriguing Romanian traditions which are meant to defeat death, promote love, prosperity and wellbeing.

Romanian Birth Rite of Passage


This is a very strong tradition for the Romanian people and practised by pretty much everyone. The midwife plays a fundamental role during the ritual of baptism, as she is the one to take the child to church. She is meant to take a pagan to the church and bring home a Christian.

Sibiu Romania

Romanian Wedding Rite of Passage

The term wedding in the Romanian language comes from the latin term “matrimonium”.

During the wedding

No wedding can happen during fasting times or 40 days before Christmas or Easter. It is customary that the parents of the groom ask the father of the bride for his permission before any engagement is to be set. After approval is received, the parents of the groom walk around from house to house, offering celebratory shots of tuica (a Romanian traditional spirit) and bottles of wine. If you refuse to drink, it means you are refusing your invitation to the wedding. Back in the days, a wedding used to be celebrated for 3 days and 3 nights. As with any wedding, the tradition is that a girl is to finally become a woman during her wedding night.

Bran Interior Romania

Romanian Death Rite of Passage

The Romanian burial traditions have been passed on for generation and are originated from the Romans. It was customary that one should cut a tree down and position it in the front of the deceased’s house. The tree must not be able to produce any flowers, hence an evergreen is the most widely used for such purposes.

The Cryers

If the family of the dead run out of tears, they can hire what is called a “bocitoare” which translates to a mourner. This woman would go around crying and mourning the dead.


It is compulsory to keep a candle on for the deceased. This is meant to guide the soul in their afterlife journey. Romanian people have a special day on the 21st of November when prayers are dedicated to those who did not have a candle next to their body when they died. This also applies to those who committed suicide or died far away from their loved ones. The belief is that light will also guide their souls to find their peace in the afterlife.

Communicate with the afterlife

One of the traditions dictates that you are allowed to go to a dead person and have a conversation with them. Since they are about to go onto the “other side”, you can ask them to pass on messages to other dead relatives or friends.

Rasnov Hill Romania

The watch

The “priveghi” (the watch) lasts for three days during which a priest reads out lots of prayers. The dead are carried to the cemetery in an open coffin, in a special car, which must stop seven times. The stops signify Jesus’s stops on the mount Golgotha. If the car containing the coffin must cross water, a canvas is thrown over the waters so the deceased won’t see their own reflection. In doing so, the soul would become trapped in this world, and become a ghost.

Mirror, mirror

All mirrors and items filled with water are to be covered with black canvas for the same reason, so the dead won’t become a ghost.


At the cemetery, the priest drizzles the coffin with wine and oil then reads a special prayer. Once it’s all over, everyone goes back home where the relatives of the deceased prepared a special funeral dish called “coliva”. It’s a sweet meal made of pearl barley and it contains sugar and nuts, and usually decorated with a cross.


As part of the alms, everyone feasts on food. On this occasion, the poor people are given clothes and all sort of items in the name of the deceased. It is said that everything received will be used on the other side. The alms and giveaways are to happen often after the funeral. After a week, then after a month, after three months, six months and one year; finally it is to be repeated yearly.

Tell me about your culture’s traditions and rites of passage. Do you have anything similar to those in Romania? What is the strangest tradition you ever came across?

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Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory is a published travel writer and award-winning photographer. She travels full time with her husband and is passionate about creating in-depth travel guides. Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan. She has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries. Cory is multilingual and an alumna from The University of Manchester.


20 responses to “What Are The Romanian Rites Of Passage?”

  1. Brianna Avatar

    This was really cool! I enjoy reading about traditions and practices of different cultures. Are you planning to write any more?

    1. Cory Avatar

      Hi Brianna, I'm glad you liked the article. Yes, I'm heading to Hungary on Saturday and I will spend some time in Budapest, but mainly in the rural areas. I will do my research and write about Hungarian traditions next!

  2. Johnb272 Avatar

    Hey, thanks for the blog article. Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

  3. Monica C. Avatar
    Monica C.

    Hi, would like to know where did you get your information from. I am romanian and none of the things you mentioned in your post is accurate. I have never heard or known anything that you mentioned. It is completely FALSE & UNTRUE!

    1. Cory Avatar

      Hi Monica, thank you for your comment. As a matter of fact, you can have a quick look at the about page and you will realise I was born and raised in Bucharest, Romania. So the information available in the above article comes from very good friends who live outside of Bucharest. In fact, I have seen several of the above traditions with my own eyes. Care to tell me more about the “falseness” you feel I conveyed?

    2. Anne Avatar

      I think you either live in a cave or you are a troll. All these infos are accurate, research and think before you speak.

      1. Cory Avatar

        Thank you very much, Anne. I think Romania has such gorgeous traditions. They are unique and truly wonderful!

  4. Soula Tsicaderis Avatar
    Soula Tsicaderis


    I thought the article was well written and explained, however, can you please provide me with a basic Romanian funeral prayer. Many Thanks Soula

    1. Cory Avatar

      Hi Soula, thank you for your comment. Could you give me a few more details about the context for a basic funeral prayer so I can better help you with the right answer? Normally, Orthodox Romanians get a priest at the funeral who performs all the prayers.

  5. kate Avatar

    I have a Romanian friend whose father recently passed away. What gift would you suggest (or are flowers or a funeral wreath appropriate?)

    1. Cory Avatar

      Really sorry to hear your friend is mourning a loss. Flowers are most appropriate Funeral wreaths too. The number of flowers should be even (8, 10, 12 etc). You should go for carnations or calla flowers. Best wishes to you both

  6. Nikki Avatar

    Very Interesting. Are these practices still popular these days? Like you mention in the article, some of these practices sound “witchy” haha. No disrespect at all, I just found it very interesting considering the Christian population.

  7. Carol Luca Avatar
    Carol Luca

    What about Divorce. When the Romanian man leaves his wife.

    1. Cory Avatar

      Well unless there’s an issue in a marriage that’s not a real rite of passage.

  8. Carol Luca Avatar
    Carol Luca

    What about Divorce with someone from the uk

    1. Cory Avatar

      As previously mentioned, it’s not a real rite of passage.

  9. Sarah Avatar

    Do you know what would be appropriate to send to the wife of the deceased? My friend’s father died, I am in the US, and I would like to send something to show my respects.

    1. Cory Avatar

      Hi Sarah, Thank you for your message.
      I’m so sorry for your friend’s loss.
      It may sound a little weird but money is the most appropriate gift because a funeral is a very costly affair and family and friends usually help the family of the deceased this way in Romania. You can ask if she has a special account set up for this specifically. It doesn’t have to be much, but anything to show her you are thinking of her.
      Another gift could be to ask your friend if you can order a crown of flowers for her father’s grave on her behalf. This, however, may be costly (around $100 per crown).

      Baskets of food and wine are usually not acceptable.

      To keep it simple, you can always order a small bouquet of flowers and a card to her address with your condolences. I hope this helps.

      Kind Regards,


  10. Miss Barbara Brinkman Avatar
    Miss Barbara Brinkman

    Can you marry after the death of a family member?

    1. Cory Avatar

      Yes, you can.

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