Arts and monuments
By the end of the 18th century, academics from the Transylvanian School were debating the origins of the Romanians. Several writers rose to prominence in the nineteenth century, including George Coșbuc, Ioan Slavici, Mihail Kogălniceanu, Vasile Alecsandri, Nicolae Bălcescu, Ion Luca Caragiale, Ion Creangă, and Mihai Eminescu, the latter being regarded as the greatest and most influential Romanian poet, particularly for his poem Luceafărul. Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, Mircea Eliade, Nicolae Grigorescu, Marin Preda, Liviu Rebreanu, Eugène Ionesco, Emil Cioran, and Constantin Brâncuși were among the Romanian artists who achieved worldwide recognition in the twentieth century. The latter has a sculptural ensemble in Târgu Jiu, and his work Bird in Space sold for $27.5 million at auction in 2005. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who was born in Romania, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, while writer Herta Müller received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009.
Among the prominent Romanian painters are Nicolae Grigorescu, Stefan Luchian, and Ion Andreescu. Theodor Aman and Nicolae Tonitza Ciprian Porumbescu, Anton Pann, Eduard Caudella, Mihail Jora, Dinu Lipatti, and notably George Enescu are notable Romanian classical composers of the 19th and 20th century. The annual George Enescu Festival is held in Bucharest in commemoration of the composer of the same name who lived in the twentieth century. Angela Gheorghiu, Gheorghe Zamfir, Inna, Alexandra Stan, and many more contemporary musicians have gained varying degrees of worldwide recognition. Romanian artists finished third in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005 and 2010.
Several films from the Romanian New Wave have received worldwide recognition. Cristian Mungiu’s film 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days won the Palme d’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Child’s Pose, directed by Călin Peter Netzer, received the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2013.
Six cultural monuments in Romania are on the list of World Heritage Sites, including eight Painted churches of northern Moldavia, eight Wooden Churches of Maramureş, seven Villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, the Horezu Monastery, and the Historic Centre of Sighişoara. Sibiu, with its Brukenthal National Museum, was named European Capital of Culture in 2007. In Romania, there are many castles, including the famous tourist sites of Peleș Castle, Corvin Castle, and “Dracula’s Castle.”
Holidays, traditions and cuisine
There are 12 non-working public holidays, including the Great Merger Day on December 1st, which commemorates Transylvania’s 1918 union with Romania. Winter holidays include Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, which include a variety of distinctive traditional dances and games such as plugușorul, sorcova, ursul, and capra. Traditional Romanian clothing, which had largely gone out of favor throughout the twentieth century, is a popular ceremonial vestment worn during these events, particularly in rural regions. After 2007, the sacrifice of live pigs at Christmas and lambs at Easter required a specific exemption from EU legislation. Painted eggs are popular around Easter, while the 1st of March celebrates mărțișor giving, a Thracian custom.
Romanian food is related to other Balkan cuisines such as Greek, Bulgarian, and Turkish cuisine. Ciorbă contains a broad variety of sour soups, while main dishes often include mititei, mămăligă (similar to polenta), and sarmale. The most common meats are pork, chicken, and beef, although lamb and fish are also popular. Certain traditional dishes are prepared specifically for the holidays: chiftele, tobă, and tochitura for Christmas; drob, pască, and cozonac for Easter and other Romanian festivals. uică is a powerful plum brandy with a 70% alcohol concentration that is the country’s traditional alcoholic beverage, accounting for up to 75% of the national harvest (Romania is one of the largest plum producers in the world). Traditional alcoholic drinks include wine, rachiu, palincă, and vişinată, although beer usage has skyrocketed in recent years.