The Symbol of the Hearth in the Romanian Tradition
We are already in the last month of autumn and the cold begins to embrace us more and more. Reason to remember our grandparents houses and the traditional food, the covered in snow streets of our childhood villagesand the hearth of the house, the cozy place that gathers not only the flavors of the cakes and other goodies, but also the people in search of warmth and stories.
In the Romanian tradition, a home is not only a house; it includes a lot of superstitions and beliefs related to the building process, the land that is situated upon, space orientation and partitioning. It is a place for the family life, sacred and intimate, that witnesses both generations of humans and habits, worries and joys. People are tied to their parents’ home and everything related to it has its piously respected place: the religious icon, the bed, the table, the hearth. Once built, the house takes in its role and family with the first fire in the hearth.
In traditional Romanian villages, the hearth is the symbol of the Romanian house, the symbol of tradition, of love and steadiness. It sits there, in the well-chosen corner of the house, and witnesses quietly and faithfully every year at the most important events in the family: marriage, birth, baptism, death, gathering around the table, prayers. The hearth not just an oven. It is the soul and guardian of the house, both a construction made of clay that warms, brightens and prepares food, and a mystic blend between earth and fire, providing the family behavioral and thinking directions, but also common sources of anxieties, superstitions and folk beliefs.
The spiritual role of the hearth is contoured from the beginning of the house (choosing a good, clean and fruitful place), and continues to stand out in almost any household chores, due to association with the mystical aspects of fire. Just like Sun, fire symbolizes fertilization, purification, light, food and wisdom, but also presents a negative aspect: darkness, burning and ruin. Therefore, by respecting fire and hearth, you protect your house and family from evil spirits: do not eat on the hearth because you attract poverty; do not set the fire at night because you throw out the sleep of the house; do not give fire from the house when you have a baby, because the baby will cry; the newborn is first put on the hearth, so the evil eye charms can’t touch it; the bride must hug the oven in the in-laws house, in order to gain the ancestors’ goodwill etc. The charms and enchantments are also practiced near the hearth: love spells, enchantments of the weather, plentiful in the home, health and growth.
There are some interesting folk beliefs about the bread baking in the hearth. When put in the oven, the bread is blessed with a prayer and a cross made with a shovel oven the oven; do not count the bread in the oven because you will run out of it and you could even attract death; do not eat bread left in the oven because people will forget about you – such bread is used for charms, so the girls who eat it to be forgotten and not marry; once the bread removed from the oven, throw some wood into the fire, so you have a scale to heaven into the next world. And many many more…
Beliefs and superstitions about hearth are found in an impressively large number in Romanian folklore, and most of them speak of the prohibition of committing evil deeds in front of the hearth because the fire has a demonic and vigilante part: fire is present in hell, where it burns those who sin.
Now, away from all the habits that were once the rule in the household, we gather around the hearth just to remember them, to know about our legacy, to know what we should keep and what we should change, to know the past the mold our people. Out of respect for the Romanian tradition, Vatra Restaurant is always trying to keep, to emphasize and make others know about our beautiful folklore: rustic décor, folk music and dances, but mostly, traditional food cooked with love on the hearth.
Ion Brezoianu Street, No. 19
Sector 1, Bucharest, Romania