After Women’s day on the 8th, we Romanians have other traditions but this time related to men. With religious and laic roots, on March 9th all the Christianity (othodox at least) celebrates the sacrifice of the 40 saints from Sevastia who died for their faith in Jesus. Around 320 a.c., 40 soldiers were captured in order to give up on their Christian faith. As they refused, they were undressd and force to go into a freezing lake. But then, instead of dying they started praying to God who saved them. Unfortunately they were tortured and then burned, so now people make big fires on that day in the memory of the 40 saints.
In Romania, it is a time for the nature getting back to life, for people to be more kind, to give away to the poor. So on March 9th it is settled that women cook some yeast dough in the shape of an eight which they anoint with honey, sugar and grounded nuts. Usually the mucenici are given away to the neighbours or taken to the curch to be given away. The old beliefs says the people who give away will have a good year, but sometimes they are just eaten by the family, as they really taste good. 🙂 Oh, and their name, “mucenici” means “martyrs”, “saints”.
Mucenici moldovenesti (from Moldavian region, north east)
and the full recipe
In the southern regions, they are smaller just like pasta and they are cooked in some soup made with cinnamon, sugar and nuts. I honestly never had the mucenici like this (they look bad), but they are pretty common as well.
Mucenici muntenesti (from Muntenia region, south)
Another tradition most enjoyed by men, is on March 9th to drink 44 glasses of alcohol (some say wine, some say “rachiu”, an alcoholic traditional drink which I will probably present later on my blog). It is said since ancient roman times that who will drink the 44 glasses will be strong for the whole year, as the wine will convert into blood.
Mucenicii and the 44 shots are not the only customs of this day: peasants make big fires to burn down the cold winter and purify the spirits, or they clean and bring out the plows and go to the fields. But then these of course are very old traditions when people actually had plows, not tractors:) It is said that how the weather will be on March 9th, the same will be on Easter day, so the people knock the ground with the beats to bring out the heat and banish the cold weather.
Begining with March 9th, the days of the old men start, Dochia’s days are over and the calendar is turning into good weather as the old men are good and wise.