Christmas Around The World - Romania

When most of us think of Christmastime, visions of hams, turkeys, rolls, cakes, pies, and other goodies dance in our heads. And while many Christmas traditions take place outside the dining room, the festivities almost always revolve around food. We've found this to be the case no matter where you live, so take a moment to share in holiday traditions and favorite recipes from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world.


Craciun fericit! Romania has many different cultural influences, so traditions vary across the country. The most widespread tradition, however, involves caroling. These songs include traditional texts, dances, and images. While carolers sing, children carry stars that they have cut out of cardboard and decorated with Bible scenes. Friends and family often bring instruments as they carol together, and the people at the houses usually give food to the carolers, or sometimes if they're lucky, money. The carolers move from house to house all night until the sun comes up on Christmas morning.

Mos Craciun, or Old Man Christmas, brings gifts, but gifts are given and opened on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. Out in the villages, gifts usually are simple, like fruit, nuts, and pastries. Although Christmas is celebrated on December 25 in Romania, sometimes Christmas is compounded with New Years Eve, as it is in the neighboring country, Moldova.

Food is a large part of the holiday, and the women in the family often end up cooking for three days prior to Christmas. Teo Aemilius says about cozonac, a traditional cheese bread, "Cozonac is Romanian Christmas bread. The smell of this delicious bread baking means it is Christmastime in Romania - time for merriment and lots of good food. It means it's time for singing Romanian Christmas songs, for laughing, and for eating cozonac with apples or sweetened cottage cheese, yeast doughnuts with lemon curd filling, and other lovely Old World-style foods, such as fresh sarmale (cabbage rolls), mititea (sausage), and pickled cucumbers. It means Mosu Craciun is about to arrive. It means that soon there will be toys for the youngest children and stockings filled with fruit, nuts, cookies, and maybe some new mittens and socks. Ah, the sweet smell of Cozonac baking!"

  • 1 cup milk, heated
  • 1 fresh yeast cake (or 1 yeast packet)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 3-4 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
Cheese Filling:
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla or lemon flavoring
Bread: Heat oven to 350° F. Heat the milk to lukewarm. In a separate bowl, crumble yeast. Add 2 teaspoons sugar and 2 tablespoons milk; set aside. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. To the lukewarm milk, add 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, melted butter, lightly beaten eggs, and optional food coloring. Add yeast mixture. Beat all with rotary beater until thoroughly blended. Pour mixture over flour and work in, with a wooden spoon, until all flour has mixed well with milk mixture. Knead with hands for about 5 minutes or until dough will not stick to your hands. Cover with clean tea towel and place in warm spot. Allow dough to rise until double in size.

Punch down and knead again for 2 minutes. Let rise again. Place dough on an oiled work surface and roll out until it is a sheet about a finger's width thick. Spread Cheese Filling uniformly over the top, then roll dough up like a jelly roll. Grease a bread pan, place the roll inside, and allow it to rise to the top of the pan. Brush with a beaten egg and then bake at 350 until done. After 45 minutes, check for doneness. Makes 1 loaf. 

Cheese Filling: Using a fork, mash and blend the cream cheese. Add cornstarch and egg yolks and mix well. Add sour cream, 1รข€“2 tablespoons at a time. Work quickly and mix thoroughly. Add sugar and flavoring. Spread over the dough

Tea Aemilius
Ploiesti Branch
Bucharest Stake
Ploiesti, Romania

Recipes and experiences excerpted from Worldwide Christmas Cookbook by Deanna Buxton. Copyright 2009, Covenant.

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