recipe: romanian

5

Today is the Great Union Day in Romania. It’s our national day and commemorates the unification of Transylvania with the rest of Romania, and also the reunification with the Bessarabia and Bukovina provinces in 1918. Nowadays, it is primarily a holiday full of activities and old-fashioned military parades. Congratulations Romanians! La multi ani!

Iele

Iele are supernatural nymph-like creatures found in Romanian mythology.

Description

Iele tend live in secluded places, including the sky, in forests, in caves, on isolated mountain cliffs and in marshes, and reported to have been seen bathing in the springs or at crossroads.

They are usually invisible, but can be seen at night when they gather to dance and sing in open fields or the tops of trees. It is noted that they dance in a circle (horas). Then they appear as beautiful young women, and often said to appear naked. According to some sources, after the previous night, the next day the places where they dance appear scorched. When the vegetation grows back, it has a different colour such as red or dark green, (this can be compared to fairy rings). The animals would then not eat it, but instead mushrooms would thrive on it.

The Iele are said not to be solitary creatures, but gather in groups in the air, where they can fly with or without wings; they can travel with incredible speeds, either on their own, or with chariots of fire.

Iele are not malevolent spirits, but will seek revenge if offended. In many cases, the Iele abduct the offenders. Possible offences include:

  • Watching them dance without their permission.
  • Joining in their dance without their approval.
  • Drinking from a particular spring.
  • Sleeping beneath a certain tree.
  • Stepping over the (fairy ring) circle where they have danced.

Appeasement

To please the Iele, people dedicated festival days to them: the Rusaliile, the Stratul, the Sfredelul or Bulciul Rusaliilor, the nine days after Easter, the Marina etc. Anyone not respecting these holidays was said to suffer the revenge of the Iele: men and women who work during these days would be lifted in spinning vertigo, people and cattle would suffer mysterious deaths or become paralysed and crippled, hail would fall, rivers would flood, trees would wither, and houses would catch fire.

People have also found cures and preventions against the Iele:

  • Wear garlic and mugwort around the waist.
  • Hanging the skull of a horse on a pole in front of the house.

The most important cure is the dance of Călușari. 

Several places in the world claim the title of “Little Paris” or “Paris of the East,” but it’s easy to see that Bucharest definitely deserves that title. When you’re walking down the streets, you can’t miss the impressive and beautiful, extravagant architecture of some of the buildings.
—  The Huffington Post about Bucharest, Romania.