When I think about winter I remember the cold morning from the time I was 6. Usually my parents were sending me away to my grandparents during summer vacations, but once it happened in the winter time too. I remember the old bed from my room and my mother trying to wake me up. My mother is young and she is dressing me with a white costume made by her. It’s freezing, but I still have impregnated the feeling of warm in a cold winter morning and the happiness that I will go on a trip. Winter meant so much when I was a kid: the long days playing in snow with all the neighbors, infinite sledge races and the nice gathering in the main entrance of the building where stories were told loudly and endless games were played.

Christmas was so special in that time. It wasn’t all about the presents, since I used to receive clothes – in our family it was a normal thing to have new clothes on holidays (and usually it was the only time they were bought in the year). It was mostly about the fact that in each Christmas Eve I was going to sing carols in the town. All evening we were hearing special songs about this special night. We received money and, beside buying something cheap for my mother, I used to spend them at the amusement park especially set for Christmas days. In the last years the image of the white Christmas evaporated and the big snow casemates were replaced by a meet in the pub with old friends. And year by year the tradition changed. And now it’s changed even more. Here, in Netherlands, the trees are sold starting with the end of November. So, for the first time in my life, I decorated the Christmas tree on 9th of December. Today I cooked almost all day long, a lot of traditional food. But I can’t stop thinking about how it was when I was younger: my father used to buy the tree in the morning of 24th and we will be decorating it in the evening, around 5. The timing was important, ’cause starting with 6, children are coming to sing and you have to be prepared with money and, in case somebody known comes, to invite them in the house, serving them cakes and juice. Starting with 10 pm relatives are coming to visit and you need to be prepared with all the food and ready to enjoy the holidays.

With all of this in mind I am preparing for another kind of Christmas. I miss the crowded house, the nephews screaming; but for sure I am not missing the fights which usually end in tears. And since we are prepared for a surrogate Christmas I called my mother to give me some recipes for traditional food: Romanian sponge cake (cozonac) and sarmale (meat rolled in cabbage). In the end, it is a time to be relaxed, with the smell of good food in the house and enjoy some peaceful moments. Which I will do and I hope the same is the case for you! Merry Christmas!

Romanian traditions:

Chaotic decorations:

Pica is waiting for Santa: