On November 30, Romanians celebrate Saint Andrew, the first of Jesus Christ apostles who preached Christianity in the south of Romania. This way Saint Andrew is also considered the patron of the country and many boys and girls are named after him. So, this holiday is actually a feast for many people as they celebrate it like an anniversary.
But in ancient times, Romanian ancestors, the Dacians, used to celebrate another divinity, called Sântandrei, the master of wolves. November 30 also marked the end of autumn and the beginning of winter as well as the day when wolves formed packs of twelve to prepare for the hard winter. Therefore, the Day of the Wolves was very important and the rituals were intimately connected with them. At present time, Saint Andrew’s Day is celebrated like any other religious holiday but there are also respected some old superstitions, directly connected to ancient beliefs that survived the time. As a result, it is believed that this day enhances the magical powers of the wizards so the witchcrafts and spells cast this day are more stronger and powerful than ever.
Saint Andrew – the Protector of Wolves
But Saint Andrew`s Eve is actually the moment with the highest intensity and density of magical rituals, customs and beliefs. The old tradition says that Saint Andrew, being the master and protector of the wolves, descends on earth at midnight to share each wolf the prey for the winter. Even now, it is believed that on this day, the wolves can turn their head and see their tale. They also become so agile and light-footed that no prey can escape. If the cattle starts to roar at midnight it’s a sign that wolves are coming. In order to protect the cattle, the people prepare in advance wax crosses to stick them on the right horn of the cows. Nobody is allowed to work, to comb their hair or to pronounce the word “wolf” – lup, as these things supposedly attract the anger of the wolves.
But Saint Andrew’s Eve is not just about wolves. According to ancient beliefs, the spirits of the dead are now allowed to re-enter, just for one night, into the world of the living. As the cosmic order is now profoundly disturbed, other malefic forces interfere. So, along with wolves and spirits, the vampires and the moroi are also enjoying this moment of chaos, dancing and haunting abandoned houses, tormenting people and animals. As expected, people take strong measures of protection and you will often see this day, especially in the countryside, people rubbing the doors and windows with cloves of garlic, hanging from place to place garlic garlands and preparing different garlic-based dishes. An interesting tradition, resembling more like a party, is the Guarding of the Garlic. Each girl participating at the ritual brings three garlic bulbs which are put into a vase. The vase is then guarded by an old woman while the young people dance and eat and enjoy the party until morning. Then, the garlic is shared to all participants and each keep it all year long in the most sacred place of the house, near the icons, to be used only in time of need as the garlic now is invested with magical and healing properties.
In cities, this ritual was adapted and transformed into a party quite similar to Halloween so, from villages to cities this holiday keeps the entire Romania awake.