The band of carolers

In Romania, in the Christmas time, carols are sung by a band of carolers.

In the traditional community, the group of carolers was mainly made up of unmarried boys. In parallel with them, the children also caroled, the hierarchies and rules of their group reflecting on a smaller scale the organization of the gang of boys.

The gang was composed of 10 to 20 young men and involved almost entirely the age group of boys, who had a significant role in carrying out the rites related to the winter holidays and at the same time the premarital or nuptial rites.

The boys who were accepted into the gang were between the ages of 14 and 21 and were, in principle, unmarried. Regionally, there are also forms of caroling with mixed groups of lads and young married men or old men, occasionally including girls.

The necessary qualities to be included in the troupe are, in general, athletic stature, musical ear or talent for dancing, knowledge of the troupe’s repertoire, which numbered between 5 and up to 60 carols.

The young people would gather around December 15, at the beginning of Christmas Lent, in one of the houses in the village, and put together the group’s carol repertoire, which they would perform in the period between Christmas Eve (December 24) and Saint Ion (January 7).

On December 6 (Sânicoara), after the caroling of those who bear the name of Nicolae, the election of the leadership of the gang took place. The virgins settled during the entire caroling period (between December 6 and January 7) in the house of one of the village’s householders, for whom they did various household work in return: fetching wood, carrying water, cleaning the stables, and also here they held the party to break the siege , in which the host also participated.

The group of carolers has the obligation to visit all the houses of the village, either in order of the rank of the hosts (starting with the priest, the mayor, the teacher) or taking each household in turn.

In cases where the group of carolers was not received, the boys beat the drum on the stripe, addressed the host with shrill cries and even took the doors off their hinges.

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Rodica Colta, Sărbători și datini de peste an. O anchetă transfrontalieră asupra culturii tradiționale, Editura Etnologică, 2017;
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