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ROMANIAN SOCIETY: Daily Life and Customs, Religion, Local Communities, Minorities, Environment, Society and Politics, International Adoptions :: HOME ::


Discover Maramures, a region in northern Romania, through videos on YouTube. Here are a few I recommend:
» A video in English about the wooden churches of Maramureş and the Merry Cemetery in Sapīnţa, Maramureş.
» A nicely filmed video of a traditional dance from Oas, Maramureş.
» A video showing locals visiting Bārsana Monastery in Maramureş.
Added: January 29, 2009.

The population decrease –- Romania’s most serious problem
Romania's population is dwindling. Now at 22 million, it will eventually go down to 16.7 or 15 million by 2050, according to various forecasts. The author argues that this will place incredible pressure on active citizens, leading to massive tax pressure. Adding to this will be the pressure due to the need for ever-increasing private pensions. According to the Romanian Centre for Demographic Research, 40 percent of the population will be active in 2050, compared to 19 percent in 2005. By Ilie Serbanescu, Nine O'Clock, August 6, 2007. Added: August 6, 2007.

Almost One Million Queue Up to See St. Parascheva Relics
The feast of St. Parascheva, patron saint of Moldavia, brought a huge crowd to the city of Iaşi, where her relics are hosted in the Metropolitan Cathedral. The line extended for kilometers, as they do every year, making the feast of St. Parascheva the occasion of the largest pilgrimage in the country. Officials also attended the religious service. Commemorated on October 14, St. Parascheva in question is the best known of three saints of that name. She was born at the beginning of the 11th century in present-day Turkey. Coming from a wealthy family, she abandoned her material riches to live in prayer and meditation. She moved from place to place, living a few years in Constantinople and in the Jordanian desert. She spent her final two years in the village of Katikratia, where she was buried. Years after her death a monk disinterred her after being prompted by the saint in a dream. St. Parascheva's body, untouched by decay, was placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Kalikratia. Later her relics were taken to Tirnovo, Belgrade and Constantinople, and eventually made their way to Moldavia in 1641, where they were deposited in the Three Hierarchs Church in Iaşi. In 1888 they were moved to the Metropolitan Cathedral. By Dana Florin, Nine O'Clock, October 15, 2007, with info on the saint's life from the Web site of St. Parascheva Mission in South Shore, Quebec, Canada. Added: October 25, 2007.

21-gun salute as head of Romanian Orthodox Church buried
Romanian Patriarch Teoctist was laid to rest on August 3. His funeral was conducted by Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant clerics from many countries were in attendance. Despite accusations that he collaborated with the Communists and turned a blind eye to the demolition of many churches, Patriarch Teoctist will be remembered for the way he shepherded his people as well as for his ecumenism. Between Wednesday and Friday thousands of Romanians came to the Metropolitan Hill in Bucharest to pay their respects. AP, International Herald Tribune, August 3, 2007. Added: August 7, 2007.

Romanian Patriarch Teoctist dies
The Head of the Romanian Orthodox Church died on Monday at the age of 92. He suffered heart complications after prostate surgery. After 1989, Patriarch Teoctist has been accused of collaborating with the Securitate, Romania's secret police under Ceausescu. He will be remembered for being a friend to clergypeople of other faiths. Notable among his accomplishments is Pope John Paul II's visit to Romania in 1999, the first visit by a Pope to an Orthodox country since the Great Schism of 1054. HotNews.ro, July 30, 2007. Added: July 31, 2007.

Romania to computerize rural areas, small cities
A project costing 69.4 million US dollars is aimed at bringing Internet connectivity to 1.74 million people, or 17.7 percent of those living in rural areas and small cities. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, 472 schools and 125,000 students studying there get Internet access through this project. RomaniaNewsWatch.com, August 17, 2007. Added: August 21, 2007.

Compulsory nursery schooling in Romania?
Education Minister Cristian Adomnitei plans to introduce compulsory nursery schooling in Romania despite the glaring lack of facilities. According to a study Bucharest alone would need an extra 15,000 nursery schools as well as a reform of the nursery school system to allow for teaching to smaller groups of children. On euro|topics, excerpted from Gandul, August 3, 2007. Added: August 7, 2007.

Balkans brace for heatwave
A second heat wave hit Romania and neighboring countries, sending 16,000 people to hospitals in Romania alone. As temperatures rose to 42 degrees Celsius (107 Fahrenheit) Romania declared Code Red on July 24 in five counties and in Bucharest. In Bulgaria temperatures reached 42.6 degrees Celsius, the hottest in 120 years. In the region wells dried up and forest fires broke out. In Bucharest power outages hit many districts repeatedly. By Radu Marinas, Reuters, July 23, 2007. Added: July 26, 2007.

Heatwave grips Balkans, kills five in Romania
In Balkan states such as Romania, Serbia and Albania, the heat kills people, scorches crops and causes wild fires. The authorities dispensed water in the cities and in Romania imposed speed restrictions on trains as well as banned large trucks from traveling during the day. By Iulia Rosca, Reuters, July 18, 2007. Added: July 20, 2007.

Romanian court orders halt to construction next to Bucharest cathedral
A 10-storey office tower is being erected 30 feet away from Bucharest's Cathedral of St. Joseph. Despite a court ruling, petitions and a declaration of the European Parliament, the construction continues. The building, Cathedral Plaza, is under fire because it is seen to undermine the physical and cultural stature of a protected monument. Arguments have been made that there in the event of an earthquake the office building might threaten the structural safety of the Cathedral. By Victor Gaetan, Catholic News Service, on www.RomaniaNewsWatch.com, July 18, 2007. Added: July 26, 2007.

[Comment] Romania must plant trees to avoid desertification
A second heat wave is hitting Romania these days, with temperatures reaching past 40 degrees Celsius. The land is being increasingly dried up, and both drinking water shortages and floods loom on the horizon. Rupert Wolfe Murray suggests tree planting as to retain flood water and prevent mud slides. The global warming argument could also be made. The author also comments on water supplies, threatened by shortages and pollution. According to the author, more regulations regarding their use should be in place, and more attention should be placed to the recycling of waste water and garbage. By Rupert Wolfe Murray, EUobserver.com, July 18, 2007. Added: July 23, 2007.

Brigitte Bardot slams Romania for dog cull
Former actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot criticizes the Romanian government for its recent decision to solve Bucharest's stray dog problem not by sterilization, as the movie star and former mayor of Bucharest Traian Basescu had agreed, but by culling stray dogs in shelters where they will be put to sleep faster than before. According to this article, there are 100,000 stray dogs roaming the streets of Bucharest -- one of which killed a Japanese businessman at the end of January. Reuters, February 4, 2006. Added: February 9, 2006.

First Vienna Ball to take place at Parliament Palace
In a city of contrasts where one person just died after being attacked by a stray dog, JW Mariott resumes the tradition of the Vienna Ball. Scheduled to take place on February 11 at the Parliament Palace, this year's edition will be the first after the 1914 one. Guests will be treated to performances by the Schönbrunner Schlossorchester, as well as Romanian ballet soloists Monica Petrica and Cristi Craciun and operetta singers Stefan Popov and Mihaela Stanciu, among others. By Otilia Haraga, Bucharest Daily News, February 8, 2006. Added: February 9, 2006.











BOOKS
Fostering New Hope
British author JK Rowling visited Romania for 2 days last month in an effort to promote the new charity, Children's High Level Group, she and Baroness Emma Nicholson MEP have founded. Rowling, mother of three, became involved in charity work benefitting institutionalized children after reading an article about Czech orphans in the British press. Her visit to Romania thus took her to children's homes, which she saw in a positive light, despite the work that still needs to be done for some 32,000 institutionalized children in Romania. Still, from the figure of 100,000 in 1989 and the haunting images shown worldwide the next year, progress has been made -- the kind Rowling, who also attended the charity event Romania for Europe's Children, hopes will inspire countries like the Czech Republic to speed up reform. By Stephen McGinty, The Scotsman, January 27, 2006. Added: February 9, 2006.

The EU Child Reform in Romania Bears Fruit
On September 7 ITV News published an article about Romania's Forgotten Children, accompanied by footage shot in an orphanage and in a village where babies, born and unborn, were shockingly being put up for sale. Yesterday, the National Authority for the Protection of Children's Rights counteracted with this press release informing about the results of several European programs implemented in this country. According to the release, the Phare program "Children First" led to the closing of 91 old orphanages, and the opening of "581 apartments and family-type homes, 51 day care centres, 34 recuperation centres for disabled children, and 14 mother-and-baby centres; the recruitment of over 2000 foster parents, as well as the development of other support and counselling services for parents." Added: September 14, 2004.

Tanner Romania Mission
Since 1991 Sandie and Bruce Tanner have dedicated their lives to helping the disabled children of Nicoresti, Galati county. Since 1993, with the help of other volunteers, they have been able to open group homes to better care for the handicapped orphans. Sandie and Bruce have committed themselves to offering the kids a family environment for the rest of their lives. Read about Tanner Romania Mission and see how you may be able to help. Added: August 3, 2007.

Friendship and Immunity
On January 31 a jury in a US military court found US Marine Christopher VanGoethem not guilty of negligent homicide and adultery in a trial connected with the death of Romanian musician Teo Peter, member of a popular rock band. Although witnesses could have testified about the automobile crash which killed Teo Peter, the prosecution dismissed the evidence and even contended that there was not enough such evidence to prove that Teo Peter was in the hit taxi at the time of the accident. On December 4, 2004 Sergeant VanGoethem was driving a US embassy vehicle when he failed to observe a right-of-way sign and crashed into the taxicab. The sentence given in the US court heated up spirits in Romania, where everyone who has watched the news of the accident and the trial seems to have been taken aback by the acquittal of VanGoethem. In 2001 Romania was the first nation to sign an immunity agreement with the US exempting US troops from prosecution in Romania. US military personnel in this country are also exempt from extradition to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. By Razvan Amariei, Transitions Online, February 10, 2006. Added: February 14, 2006.

Two Romanian journalists handed hefty fines for libel
In the recent past hundreds of Romanian journalists have been taken to court for reports perceived as libelous and damaging to politicians. In this case, two journalists from Timisoara face the prospect of paying a fine equalling an average salary times 150. Yahoo! News, September 28, 2002. Added: September 30, 2002. February 14, 2006: Page not available anymore.

Oil spills from pipe into stream in central Romania
Probably caused by a pipe piercing operated with an intention to steal, a spill of 20 tons of oil poured into rivers and pastures in Arges, Romania. Yahoo! News, September 29, 2002. Added: September 29, 2002. February 14, 2006: Page not available anymore.

Police burn hemp in southern Romania
Police is out to incinerate hemp crops. Reportedly 32 tons of hemp were burned over the course of a few weeks. Yahoo!News, September 19, 2002. Added: September 29, 2002. February 14, 2006: Page not available anymore.

Exhibition Rediscovers Romania's Dowry Custom
Exhibit at Mogosoaia Palace in the vicinity of Bucharest sets the stage for author Dina Kyriakidou's dialogue with museum manager Doina Mandru on the importance of the dowry custom and the history of Mogosoaia Palace and its heirs. Reuters, September 25, 2002. Added: September 27, 2002. February 14, 2006: Page not available anymore.

Thousands in Romania call for government to resign amid growing poverty
Ten thousand state workers closed ranks yesterday in downtown Bucharest to protest against poor living conditions and insufficient wages. AP, NJ.com, June 11, 2002. Added: June 12, 2002.

Black Romanians Making A Way For Themselves In Their Homeland
From prejudice, stereotypes and isolation before 1989, to uniting around an association and entering the mainstream as hosts of TV shows. By Chuck Todaro, guest contributor to The Black World Today, May 8, 2002. Added: May 12, 2002.

The Orphans of Our Discontent
The whole story behind MEP Emma Nicholson's report of May 2001 and the June moratorium of the same year on international adoptions. Under charges of corruption, adoptions seen as child trafficking were put to a halt while many families, in the US and elsewhere, were still waiting for their promised babies. Still, between 2001 and 2004 children with special needs or otherwise making "exceptional" cases continued to be adopted by US citizens, raising the figure of children adopted into the US between 1900 and 2004 to 8, 213. During the ban, a total of 1, 115 international adoptions were approved. In 2004, more incidents, such as one of sexual abuse, broke out in the media, challenging Romania's accessation talks with the European Union. In January 2005 new legislation came into effect making foreign adoptions "the last resort" and limiting them to cases involving grandparents living abroad, thus cutting off 200 US families from their dream and hopes of adopting from Romania. Recently there has been pressure from both US officials and European Parliament ones to solve these cases. By Denisa Maruntoiu, Bucharest Daily News, February 2, 2006. Added: February 4, 2006.

The Orphans of Our Discontent: Institutionalized Teenagers Dream of a Life Abroad
Teenagers of the Pinocchio placement center share their views on what life has in store for them in Romania and what they feel it could have in the US, where some of them have been denied adoption. Most of these young adults are in touch with their biological parents and would find it hard to break ties with them. At the same time, however, they see their parents' poverty as well as their own seemingly hopeless future beyond 12th grade as an indicator that their life might definitely be better elsewhere. By Denisa Maruntoiu, Bucharest Daily News, February 2, 2006. Added: February 4, 2006.

Romania Suspends International Adoptions -- on USATODAY.com
June 21, 2001. Until a new law is passed that meets the European Union requirements, Romania is putting on hold international adoptions. Cases in progress are not affected.

Child Traffickers Cash in on Romania
Baroness Emma Nicholson, European Union's raporteur for Romania, says "Adoption practice in Romania is so deeply corrupted that is, in effect, child trafficking." She uncovered cases of handicapped children adopted by people who had not meet them, and even a case where the mother was told that her child, born handicapped, was dead only to find out later that the girl was put up for adoption. With 109 adoption agencies, the business made some £ 35 million in 2000. International adoptions from Romania, the third "supplier" in the world, are now suspended. By Jon Swain, Bucharest, The Sunday Times, June 24, 2001.

Hungarians unwanted in Romania census
March 27, 2002, the last day of the 2002 Romanian census. In Cluj, the mayor tries to persuade gypsies of Hungarian descent to declare themselves as gypsies, not as Hungarians. Gheorghe Funar fears the figure for Hungarians in Cluj may exceed 20% of the total population, which would give them more rights. On their part, gypsies aspire to the benefits of the new Hungarian identity card, giving them the right to work in Hungary and even a grant per child if certain conditions are met. By Nick Thorpe, BBC News, March 27, 2002. Added: March 27, 2002.

Life and People [in Vurpar, Romania]
Thinking of visiting the Transylvanian countryside? Visit this site first, and you will get a pretty clear idea of what to expect. Lions Club members at Vurpar.com offer a comprehensive description of a Transylvanian Village (Vurpar, near Sibiu), with stories and pictures covering the most common aspects of life in rural Transylvania. Added: May 12, 2002.

Pope and Patriarch Meet
Article discusses Pope John Paul II's visit to Romania. Patriarch Teoctist of Romania led a liturgy attended by Pope John Paul II and some 100,000 people -- writer notes that it was the second Orthodox service the Pope attended, after his 1979 visit in Istanbul. Read much more about the Pope's visit to Romania and Romania's Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches in this three-page article. The Christian Century, May 19, 1999.

Pope Calls Trip to Romania "Historic" -- from detnews.com
Pope's first visit to a mainly Orthodox country was his trip to Bucharest, Romania, in 1999.

Sephardic Jewish Community of Romania -- on SephardicHouse.org
According to this article, some 75,000 Romanian Jews emigrated at the turn of last century, most of them to the United States; over a quarter of a million Romanian Jews died in Nazi camps, and others fled the country during communism, leaving a community of 14,000 Jews in today's Romania. This introduction to the Romanian Jewry, past and present, also outlines the history of the region up to 1862, when the 1859 union of Wallachia and Moldavia (two of the three historical principalities) was perfected and received the name of Romania as well as a new capital, Bucharest. Added: May 12, 2002.

The Baxter Family Home Page
This family has adopted Giorgiana from Romania -- Giorgiana Theresa Baxter joined their three biological sons. Read their story and see family pics.

James Nachtwey's "Inferno"
Photojournalist James Nachtwey has been "recording the truth" in war zones and conflict ridden areas for two decades now. His latest book, Inferno (2000), covers, among other social and human right issues, famine in Somalia and the "inhuman," "ghastly" conditions in Romanian orphanages. After the fall of Ceausescu in 1989, Nachtwey rushed to Romania to report on an Inferno he felt the world should know about. By Douglas Cruickshank, for Salon, April 10, 2000. Added: November 1, 2001.

Children in Distress
Volunteers at Children in Distress, a Christian charity, work with HIV-infected children in Romania. Their work with life and death on a daily basis should not go unnnoticed. If you care to help, you can contact them here. British volunteer nurses work alongside Romanian ones at St. Christopher's Hospice, Curtea de Arges, St. Laurence's Hospice, Cernavoda, and St Margaret's Hospice in Bucharest. These nurses deserve our blessings and support, for they have prolonged and brightened up many lives of innocent victims of controlled ignorance. Please note: The images you will see are distressing, as this world is sometimes. Other people have chosen to work with these distressing "images" on a daily basis. I hope some of you would care to recognize their work, and the need for these strong, God-inspired people. If you can help, you will make a difference too. If not, these "images" will surely put things in perspective for many of us. Added: November 20, 2002.

Adopting a Romanian child -- advice from the US Embassy in Bucharest
What you need to know about the steps involved and how to go about them. Also, be aware that for now international adoptions from Romania, other than those already underway, are suspended due to wide criticism of neglect and corruption from European Union officials. Watch out for news though, as the US is pushing to lift the ban. Added: April 20, 2002.

Children Underground
Another documentary capitalizes on the harsh reality of Romania's street children. Children Underground, directed by Edet Belzberg, has won a special prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001. More about this documentary on NPR: Children Underground. Film Documenting Romanian Street Kids Nominated for an Oscar. Added: March 17, 2002.

Drug Use among Teenagers in Romania and the Republic of Moldavia
Research carried out on some 1,500 teenagers. Article discusses methodology and results. By Ana Stoica-Constantin, Ticu Constantin, Didina Rogojina, Sergiu Baciu. Added: March 17, 2002.

Migration News -- Eastern Europe
Hungarian import of Transylvanian Hungarian workers might lead to vast emigration from Romania.

The Patrin Web Journal -- Romani/Gypsy Culture and History
Dispersed from India, Gypsies have migrated to Europe, Africa and Asia. This site discusses their situation by country. Link sends to articles on Roma/Gypsies in Romania. The name "Romania" comes from "Roman:" the local Dacians were defeated by the Romans and from their living together the Romanian people was born. "Roma," on the other hand, comes from the word Rom, ultimately of Hindi origin, used to describe certain Gypsy tribes.

Mission Trip to Romania, 1997
Baptists build churches and communities in Romania.

Transylvanian Nightmare
Saxon churches, smelting plants, noisome soot, and troubled men. By Jeffrey Tayler, for Salon Wanderlust, March 23, 1999. Added: November 1, 2001.

Romania Moves to Repeal Anti-Gay Law -- from PlanetOut
Decree issued by the government abrogates article incriminating gays for sex in public for longer than it does heterosexuals. If the decree is ratified by the Parliament, the punishment for sex in public places will be up to two years in jail for both heterosexual and gay sex. Added: June 22, 2001.

Traditional Celebrations by Month -- from FolkRomania.com
FolkRomania sells traditional handicrafts and various other items. It also offers a nice look at traditional celebrations, with their related folk legends. For the month of February it gives stories about Trif the Madman, The Welcome of the Lord, St. Haralambie (pictured "holding the enchained pest"), St. Vlasie, and, finally, the Dragobete -- the first day of spring and the Romanian counterpart to Valentine's Day. Added: February 2, 2006.



If you're thinking of spending a few months or years in Romania, try to get your hands, eyes, and mind on Anne Coe Heyniger's book. Its strength is in the story and the perceptions of a teacher who came to Romania for a year and ended up staying seven. The story is well told, consistent with the facts, and representative of Timisoara of the early 1990s. The books also wins through the author's willingness to bare herself in front of her Romanian friends and today's readers. This is a testimonial by a gracious woman and a talented writer.



History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness

What Romanians like to think of themselves and who they really are. By Lucian Boia, Central European UP, 2001.

Imagining the Balkans

Maria Todorova's book from 1997 uncovers the mechanisms which have turned a region into a negative counterpart to Western Europe. A must read for anybody who wants to understand European pride and prejudice. After you read Todorova's book, you'll understand better why a prince like Vlad Tepes could become more bloodthristy than other Western European rulers. May 15, 2002. Now Amazon lets you browse a few pages. From Oxford University Press.


Romanian Folk Art: A Guide to Living Traditions
By Karsten McNulty. Aid to Artisans, 2000.

This book offers splendid illustrations of Romanian handicrafts, which the author accompanies with brief descriptions of techniques and of the everyday life of the artisans. Karsten D. McNulty spent two years in Romania as a Peace Corps volunteer. She learned the language and then traveled the country to learn about Romanian crafts from those who make them. There's a wonderful picture in the beginning of the book showing Karsten thoroughly engaged in note-taking while a woman in folk costume by her side leans over to look at her writing.



A scholarly yet highly readable study of ethnic relations in Cluj, Transylvania (as well as of the history of Cluj and Transylvania) is out from Princeton University Press. The book starts with a a nice discussion of historical interpretations of nationhood -- a sneak preview is available on Amazon. Nationalist Politics and Everyday Ethnicity in a Transylvanian Town is co-authored by Rogers Brubaker, Margit Feischmidt, Jon Fox, and Liana Grancea. Princeton UP, 2006. Added: August 17, 2007.







Copyright © 2001-2010 Raluca Preotu. All rights reserved.