Christmastime in KolozsvárEUROPE, SHOWS/FESTIVALS/HOLIDAYS, STAFF, VIDEOS — By Estrella Azul on December 22, 2011 at 01:22
By staff writer Estrella Azul. Photos Copyright © Estrella Azul.
DECEMBER LITERALLY starts off with a bang in my city of Kolozsvár here in Romania as fireworks light up the night sky on the 1st of December. This day is the country’s national holiday, Unification Day, which celebrates the unification of Transylvania with Romania.
Kolozsvár is Hungarian for Cluj-Napoca (the city’s Romanian name), and Christmas is my favorite holiday. So for this article I chose to use my city’s name in Hungarian, which is much more meaningful to me, since I am Hungarian.
Decorations spring up all around the old city center just before and right after this holiday. This is my cue to start strolling around town to enjoy them. I do my best to find peace—even amid the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers—by taking a moment to appreciate store decorations, taking a break from my errands for a cup of tea, walking through street fairs or simply coming to a halt to admire the huge Christmas trees sparkling in multi-colored lights.
In the central square of the city, Union Square (also known to locals as St. Michael’s Square), there’s a huge open-air ice skating rink with skates for rent. Supposedly this year’s is the largest so far. Some small wooden houses selling souvenirs and the like are also present. A large Christmas tree completes the scene, next to which a stage is usually set up for concerts and other events.
Each year I try to attend my old high school’s Christmas concert (the Reformed High School of Kolozsvár or Kolozsvári Református Kollégium in Hungarian). The concert is held at the Downtown Reformed Church (Farkas Utcai Templom in Hungarian) about a week before Christmas.
After much preparation and practice, the choir always surpasses previous performances. A wide variety of works and carols are presented, all due to the efforts of Székely Árpád (the school’s dedicated headmaster for twenty years now), and this year was no different. There are now 1st–4th graders (these little ones were especially adorable!) and 5th–8th graders who perform before the 9th–12th graders, as well as a small choir formed of alumni. The program includes recited poems and handbell ringing.
Music lovers are also entertained by the annual “M ist fur Mozart,” a traditional event in Kolozsvár that takes place with different vocal-symphonic concerts throughout a week.
Throughout the month all sorts of fairs start popping up, such as bookstore fairs, where you can buy different cultural products. My favorite is the Santa’s Village handmade street fair.
I love walking through the old city center’s small streets, where vendors have lovingly displayed their wide range of unique handmade products: jewelry, toys, decoration, accessories, bags and much more at very affordable prices. Made from the most diverse materials, you can tell how the artisans have invested so much of their time and soul into every single object created.
Along with these beauties you can also find homemade cosmetics and homemade food products—such as a large variety of delicious cheeses and meats—and my favorite: freshly-made Kürtős Kalács.
Kürtős Kalác is a Hungarian pastry originating from Transylvania, also known as Chimney Cake. It’s a sweet bread dough rolled through sugar that caramelizes on top as it’s grilled on a type of rotisserie. It can also be rolled through other delights after the sugar—cinnamon, coconut and ground walnuts being the most common.
December. When my less than perfect city turns into a place of hope and dreams. When it looks more close to magical than during any time of the year. And this is exactly how I like it.
Estrella Azul is a young emerging writer, passionate about reading, floral art and photography, with an artistic personality and a soulful outlook on life. She is a Hungarian girl living and writing from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the capital of historical region Transylvania. Estrella is our European correspondent, and she dreams of embarking on a round-the-world trip. To read more of her creative writing, her thoughts and daily happenings, visit Life’s a stage – WebBlog©.