St. Andrew's Night in Maramures and Bukovina / Travel Romania

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St. Andrew's Night in Maramures and Bukovina, pegan celebration in Transylvania and Moldavia


St. Andrew's Night in Maramures and Bukovina, Transylvania and Moldavia, Romania

> Vampires are not just a product of Hollywood, they exist for centuries in old Romanian traditions.
> St. Andrew's night is one of the two opportunities to closely observe how rural Romanian defend themselves from evil spirits.
> Every year there is at least one case in Romania when the authorities need to prosecute paysants for following their pagan practices.

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The most rural and traditional Romanian areas are the ones where you have to be by October 29th. Visit the remoted villages of Maramures - the northern area of Transylvania - and the villages of Bukovina - the northern area of Moldavia. 

About St. Andrew's Night in Maramures and Bukovina, Transylvania and Moldavia

St. Andrew's night is the night between 29th and 30th of October. Romanians think it is the time when all the undead, the "strigoi" and the vampires fight each other. It is considered to be a very dangerous time for the relatives of the dead ones, who can bring them illnesses, bad weather or even death.
In Romanian mythology, "strigoi" (same form singular or plural) are the troubled souls of the dead, rising from the grave. Some strigoi can be not dead but living people, with certain magical properties, and they are called the "strigoi vii". Some of the properties of the strigoi include: the ability to transform into an animal, invisibility, and the propensity to drain the vitality of victims via blood loss. A "strigoaica" (singular feminine form) is a witch. Strigoi are also known as "moroi". They are close relatives of the werewolves known in Romania as "pricolici" or "varcolaci", the latter also meaning "goblin" at times. According to Romanian mythology a strigoi has red hair, blue eyes and two hearts.

Who can become "strigoi"?
There are several ways for a deceased person to become a strigoi. One way is if a person dies before they are married they are at risk of becoming a vampire. Most often in a situation like this, the corpse is wed to another unmarried person around the same age to prevent them from returning to the grave. Though, if this technique fails, the strigoi will return to have sexual intercourse with their spouse, or will attack family members. The corpse should then be stabbed through the heart with a sickle or other piercing object, to prevent any more attacks. Corpses walked over by cats are also at risk of become strigoi. A person who is filled with pain and regret will turn into a cat or dog after death and return as a strigoi to torment his/her relatives. If a child is born with a caul atop their head they are said to be likely to become a "strigoi vii".

How to protect yourself against vampires?
Garlic is said to be potent against the vampire. Due to this weakness, most burial ceremonies have rings of garlic around the corpse, coffin and grave. In rural Romania, people still use garlic and other traditional rituals to protect themselves from strigoi in St.Andrew's night. One way to dispatch the strigoi is to drive a stake, made from wild rosebush or aspen wood, through its heart(s) and into the earth to hold it to its grave. The vampire must be set on fire before it gets up. Another way is to remove the vampire’s heart(s) and burn it and the vampire, or do precisely that and decapitate the vampire as well. Then bury the remains at a crossroad. It is said that if the strigoi goes undetected for seven years, it can travel to another country or place where another language is spoken and become human again. Once human, the strigoi can marry and have children, but they will all become vampires when they die.

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