Saint Nicholas: A Cherished Winter Religious Celebration in Moldova

“Sfântul Nicolae” or Saint Nicholas is one of the most beloved religious holidays of winter, especially when it comes to children who must clean and prepare their little boots on Christmas Eve so that Saint Nicholas can fill them with gifts. However, there is also the possibility that Saint Nicholas may not always be generous if children have not been well-behaved throughout the year; in such cases, he might bring them a small rod.

Tradition tells us that Saint Nicholas is the second saint made by God, who stands beside the Heavenly Father on His left. We also know about Saint Nicholas that he is merciful towards the poor, helps widows and orphans, and gives money to all the destitute. Saint Nicholas is also the protector of children, being the first generous figure to bring them gifts with the onset of winter.

In villages, there is a custom for young men on Saint Nicholas’ day to gather in groups and choose a host where they will go for Christmas and New Year’s carol rehearsals. From the elderly, we learn that Saint Nicholas is also celebrated for help with illnesses and injuries, as well as for support in various situations. Moreover, on Saint Nicholas’ night, Romanian and Moldovan traditions also speak of magical rituals, spells, and weather predictions.


Thus, branches of fruit trees are placed in water to bloom by New Year’s, revealing the fate of the orchards in the coming year.

In Romanian tradition, it is said that winter begins with Saint Nicholas when he must shake his white beard, in other words, it must snow. If, however, it does not snow on Saint Nicholas’ day, it is believed that Saint Nicholas has somehow rejuvenated.

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