What to buy in Romania?
There are several types of places to buy food in Romania, a local grocery store, a super suburban grocery story, or an open-air market. The open-air markets vary in size and frequency but usually there is one in every residential area. Usually small stands are open every day. In an open-air market one can buy fresh fruits and vegetables as well as dry goods like beans, nuts and dried fruit. Purchases may be made in small quantities (a piece of fruit) or large amounts (a bag of potatoes). Customers can touch the food and choose their own. The vendor weighs the purchase and tells the customer how much is owed. Bargaining over the price of goods is for the most part not acceptable, yet is occasionally possible at the end of the day. Shoppers must bring their own baskets or bags, unless they are willing to purchase a bag from the vendor.
"Feketetó” – Negreni:
It is an open air market held once a year in Körösfeketetó (Negreni) in Western Transylvania. Since 1815 this market has been held there on the banks of the Körös River around the first weekend in October. "A centuries old market democracy works here. The common goal; everyone should get a good deal." Another remark from Kiss Ferencs account: "poor Fellini, what you missed out on!"
The name of Corund is inseparable from the folk ceramics and pot industry. Being one of the Transylvanian center of folk pottery, Corund means the survival of the folk art by continuing our traditions and it also means the welfare of the locals at the same time. The viable community deals with many things: traditional pottery, wood processing, tinder-making and trade. The country fair along the main street: it offers a vast variety of pottery, objects woven from stray, woolen products, wooden tools, objects for daily use or ornamental ones to the visitor. The village is like a large market.
There are also other traditional makets and fairs, mainly in Transylvania. On the first Saturday of August there is a Potter’s Market in Árcsó. On the 3rd weekend of July there is a Craftmen’s Fair in Odorheiu Secuiesc.
The famed painted eggs, especially prominent around Easter time, are the most readily recognizable examples of Romanian folk art. Intricate patterns were actually secret languages known only to residents of the regions where they were painted. Painting of real hollowed-out eggs was an integral part of preparations for this festival of renewal. Women and children gathered in someones home and spent a day painting and gossiping.
It is not by chance that this type of popular art is very close to the popular art represented by the glass painting and the pottery art. The painting of eggs plays an important role in Romanian popular art. Although it seems that this type of art has a minor importance or that it belongs to the past, this art is still vivid in numerous ethnographical regions within Romania. It is worth noting that the painting of eggs is in total accordance with other manifestations of the Romanian popular art with respect of its content of motifs, rules of composition, and that of coloring.
The mostly used procedure in much of Eastern Europe are the simple coloring as well as the “writing” with wax to embellish their eggs. Before the availability of paint, the artist used different plant pigments to color the eggs. Colors were chosen usually from plant leaves, flowers and tree bark that were then boiled. To obtain red colors leaves of red onion or the peony flowers were often used. Yellow colors were derived from the apple tree bark or some yellow flowers. Nut tree leaves were used to give a coffee-color. Raw rye of spring, the horsemint or the birch tree leaves were used to give the green color.
An extremely important and a much widespread theme is those motifs inspired directly from the social life (objects, tools) such as the motif of the “hook”. Numerous other motifs, highly stylized in a geometrical sense are: the “hoes” and the “pitchfork” for hay.
The phytomorph (plant) motifs expressed the natures beauties are widely present in the egg painting reflecting the Romanian folklore. From the generic “leaf” and “flower” to the snow drops as messengers of spring, through the pansies, trefoil, acorn of oak tree, fern, fir tree, the repertoire seems endless. Each motif is modulated according to the skill and personality of each “painter”. The fewest representations on the eggs are the anthropomorph (man) motifs. These motifs show man appears doing his occupation, his agricultural tool, or through the figure of the shepherd who plays his whistle.
The art of pottery is one of the most ancient Romanian crafts, as proved by the beautiful ceramic objects dating from the Neolithic era, the period of a blooming civilization. In this context, the Cucuteni culture (named after a village situated North-West of Iasi) stands out. This was described by an American researcher as „unique to 5000 year old Europe”. The pots that belong to this period have rounded shapes, of great diversity, being richly painted. The main motifs are the spiral, the meander, the triangle, all painted in red, with black outlines on a white background. Beside dishes, there were also manufactured human-shaped figurines (representing especially females) used for religious purposes. The Cucuteni ceramics is of very high quality and is one of the most admired in the whole world for its shapes and decorations. Ceramic objects were also crafted during the Boian culture (with much straighter lines and meander decorations, realized with white clay) and the Hamangia culture, mostly known for its human-shaped figurines (the most famous being the statues „The Thinker” and „Woman Resting”, which can be found today in the Constanta Museum of Archaeology). In Walachia (Southern Romania) the Gumelnita culture had spread. The pots created during this culture were decorated through incisions, the main motif still being the spiral. The Celts have introduced the potter’s wheel to the Dacian territory around 300 BC. The Celtic motifs can still be found in the actual Romanian ceramics. Pottery is a tiring work where strength, skill and knowledge are involved. Any mistake can result in the destruction of the pot. Usually this job was reserved for men, women only taking part in the decoration process. Men brought home clay from clay pits, kneaded it with their hands, feet or a big wooden mallet, while mixing it with water. The resulted paste was cleaned of impurities, sliced into thin pieces and then molded, using the potter’s wheel. The wheel consists of two discs, a smaller one in the upper part and a bigger one in the lower part, connected by a vertical axle. The ball of clay is put on the upper disc, while the potter spins quite fast the lower one with his foot, thus obtaining circular shapes. The molding process requires remarkable skills and high speed because the paste mustn’t dry out (sometimes the pot is done in as fast as 40-50 seconds). After the molding, pots are left to dry out for a few days in the shade and then are burnt in special ovens, but not before they are decorated and sometimes enameled (only the inner part and the margins).
Black and Red Ceramics:
Black ceramics originates in Dacia, being of great importance in the pre-Roman period. In order to obtain it, the paste is subjected to an incomplete burn. The pots are burnt in a conoid shaped pit, up to 1.5 meters deep. Next to this pit there’s another one, linked by a small canal where the fire is burning. The pots are put in the first pit. When they are well heated and become red, they are covered with a thick layer of moist clay, also used to fill the small canal. Thus, the burning process continues without oxygen and the pots become grey or black. The black ceramics is still manufactured today in Romania and is also known as „Marginea pottery” (named after a village in the Suceava County). Red ceramics, obtained by burning it in an oxidizing system, borrowed some elements from the Roman culture. To obtain this color, the pots are dipped after drying off into a coloring substance obtained from a special clay (called „huma”) mixed with water. Then the pots are hand-painted. The red ceramics (enameled or not) can be found on 90% of the Romanian territory.
Motifs and Symbols:
Decorative motifs are mainly geometrical, but there can also be found plants, birds and animals. The triangle is the oldest decoration motif, being present on prehistoric ceramics. The triangle appears under various forms wolf tooth (several triangles having the same size) or saw (alternated up and down triangles). The spiral can be found especially on Cucuteni and Boian ceramics, being made of white clay. It’s an ancient motif, which appeared years later in the Western Europe. The waved line can be wide, with other decorative motifs between the waves, or it can be narrow and simple. The most used vegetal motif is the fir twig, which first appeared on prehistoric pots and later on black and red ceramics. It symbolizes the evergreen fir`s everlasting life. Grapevines (a Christian symbol), wheat ears, clover, grapes, buds, leaves and flowers are also painted.
Potters usually settled in areas protected by the threat of invasion, in villages situated in either mountains or hills, rarely in the plain. A very important condition for settlement was the proximity of clay quarries and forests. The later provided the wood for burning the pots. The potters belonged to the guilds formed in villages having a pottery tradition. They headed towards the plain, carrying their merchandise in the purpose of selling it. The only exception was Horezu village, where the buyers were the ones who came to the potters, due to the exceptional quality of the ceramics. Ceramics was not only sold for money, but also traded for other things. A ceramic pot valued its content in wheat or corn, or the double of its content in apples or potatoes.
Romanian pottery is still made mainly on traditional kick-wheels with simple finishing tools. Shapes, sizes and patterns reflect the different clays and cultures of diverse areas where are produced. Color glazes and decorations vary from strong geometrics, to delicate florals, animals and humans. There are approximately 30 pottery centres throughout the country, each with its own distinctive style, but the main areas are in Horezu in Oltenia, Corund in eastern Transylvania and Radauti and Marginea in Moldavia.
Maramures is the area to see the art of woodwork. Homes are trimmed in elaborately carved wood, wooden gates and even fences are intricately carved. Historically, in this area, a familys community status was displayed through the gate — the more elaborate, the more important the family. The "Merry Cemetery" of Sapanta is in this region, open all year long, at all times — its well worth a visit. Hand-carved decorations in complex patterns hold meanings beyond the purely decorative. Trees of life, twisted rope, moons, stars, flowers and wolf teeth to ward off evil spirits are associated with myths and superstitions. They show up in furniture, spoons, ladles, walking sticks, keepsake chests and other decorative objects, sometimes embellished with paint. Wooden flutes and recorders are also elaborately carved. Most prized are the multi-piped pan flutes, which are now very rare, as few artisans know how to make them and even fewer know how to play them.
Icons painted on wood support:
The oldest and most common icons were painted on wood support. Made by peasant painters or by the painters in the monasteries, these are mostly found in Moldavia and Walachia.
Unlike the icons painted on glass support, these icons, being painted on wood, seem to be more discrete. They haven’t the brightness that glass confers, but this doesn’t mean they’re less valuable. Moreover, in their case, the painter doesn’t use paper models. Even if he uses the descriptions from „erminii” (books that contain instructions for religious painting), he paints freely. The scenes are painted on a wood known for resisting time. The icons painted on wood support borrow themes from the usual art, but simplier represented. The charm of these icons consists precisely in their nave character. The main saints who are painted are the protective saints. We can also find Jesus, Virgin Mary and the birth scene.
The icons were placed on the Eastern wall of the bedroom and of the „clean” room. A bunch of basil was placed near them and a „stergar” was put above. In Northern Moldavia, where Transylvanian influences existed, the number of icons from the house is greater 4-5 in a room. These are placed one near the other, on the two walls near the „lavite”. The background of the Moldavian wood painted icons has stars, reminding the embroideries and paintings of the Romanian Middle Age.
Textiles and folk costums:
The textiles are made of the raw materials from the household. They have animal (sheep wool, goat hair, raw silk) or vegetal (hemp, cotton, linen) origin. The use of one type of material doesn’t mean that the others are excluded. Many textiles are made of both animal and vegetal materials. Silk, beads and trumpery are also used, for decoration purposes.
Manufacturing and Colors:
The textiles are only made by women, who grow hemp and linen, cut the sheep wool, prepare the fibers, weave and paint them, cut and decorate the cloth. In the beginning, the colors were natural, being obtained of roots, stems and flowers or insects. Women knew the properties of each plant and insect, the best moment for culling them and the operations that had to be done in order to obtain the desired intensity of the color. In time, the naturally obtained colors began to be more and more rare. After World War I, the using of chemical colors produced a change in the textile coloring. Red is the most used color, appearing in a wide variety of tones and shades. It is followed by blue and black.
Textiles are used for domestic purposes, (usually placed on the bed or on the dowry chest) and for decorative purposes. There are also textiles which are only used on special occasions, being related to various ceremonies (birth, wedding, funeral).
Folk costumes, together with the language, customs and traditions marks countrys ethnic identity and documents its artistic and historical values. Rumanian traditional folk customes have existed in similar forms since the beginning of this millennium. They have never been indifferent to beautiful clothes. Respect for tradition, good taste and the sacred and profane symbolism are remarkable. In all the villages where tradition is still strong feasts were occasions for unique fashion parades. Villagers clad in dresses required by the moment, as well as by their age and social status. The cloth of folk costumes, whether wool, cotton, linen or hemp, is home-woven. The simple and economical cut, lending the body a statuesque elegance, serves today as inspiration to fashion designers. The discrete decorative motifs, the luminous colors, the combinations of white, black, blue and red, supplemented with golden or silver thread and exquisite embroideries, made young women look like Byzantine princesses. Folk costumes are distinctive to their regions, their geographic and climatic conditions, local occupations and crafts, and to ancient ceremonial traditions. Womens wear are characterized by a primarily white background and colorfully embroidered wide-sleeved shirts, their don bright aprons worn front and back, and either white silk or black patterned head scarves. Men wear wide belts with punched motifs or braided strips, embroidered sheepskin vests, boots, and hats representing their specific region. Embroidery on folk costumes were used for holidays and special occasions (like weddings) follows strict regional patterns and serves also as a sort of secret language known only to people within the different regions. For example, the way in which a shirt is embroidered may indicate marital or social status. The range and dosage of hues are used to create signs of age, as is the case of the red-black combination in the garb of the inhabitants of Maramures, of Padureni (Hunedoara County), and Oas. In this costume, the red diminishes with the age of the person wearing it, finally being replaced by black. The Rumanian stylistic variety is infinite, always other in each zone, but no matter from which zone is the costume, anybody can immediately recognize it as a costume from Romania.
The basic structure of traditional clothing is a shirt or chemise made of linen, wool or hemp, which was belted at the waist. The cut of these shirts was similar for men and women but mens shirts reached to the knees and were dressed over trousers or leggings and those used by women were usually ankle length while. Women always worn an apron, which was initially a single piece of cloth wrapped round the lower part of their bodies and secured by a belt at the waist. In certain areas in the course of time this became two separate aprons, one at the back and one at the front. Outer garments made of wool or fur are worn by both men and women. The material which is used, the cut, the style of coloring and embroidery adorning the costume are unique. The most famous traditional costumes are from Transylvania and Oash (vividly colored skirts), Motzi Land ("ciupag" embroidery), Prahova and Muscel (costumes sewn with golden thread), Olt Land (a combination of the white and black embroideries), Hatzeg Land (predominant red embroideries), Vrancea Land (shirts with long and twisted sleeves).
The folk costume is still worn in the Rumanian villages. In some regions of the country it is strictly kept the colors combinations imposed by the tradition. In Transylvania, some villages near Sibiu are famous for the folk costume full of charm and color. In Harghita, the folk costume is kept even today in its original form, and it is distinguished among the different minorities that live in the villages from this region: Rumanian, Szekely, and Hungarian. Remarkable for their traditional folk costumes beautifully decorated are the villages from Gorj County. The folk costume from Moldavia were characterized by picture of traditional shirtsimplicity and sobriety, the main colors being reduced most of the times to red, black and white, meanwhile other colors have been added (combination of orange and blue, in the North of Moldavia).
The variety of the national costume is also manifested from the point of view of the structure that differs from a region to another.
The traditional masks are ancient remains of the collective memory. Masks were used in the fertility rituals, rain calling rituals, hunting rituals or in ritual dances. They represent characters from folk mythology. The mask games are played in specific moments of the year (Christmas, New Year, etc.) or on the events definitive for humans’ life (wedding, death).
In Vrancea County, at the dead watch, men wearing masks on their face dance in the courtyard, at the fire. Accompanied by drums, they offer a last party to the one who passes the threshold between the two worlds.
Only men wear masks. It is forbidden to say the name of the persons under the masks. These customs are probably the remains of ancient initiation rituals. Masks are made of fur and animal skin, of cloth, ceramic, carved wood, lime, fir or birch bark, metal rings or pieces, thick colored rope, bird feathers, hemp tow, horse or pig hair, beans and corn, straw, colored paper, beads, buttons, glass pieces, horns or pieces of objects. Some of these materials are colored. The most used tools for making masks are the knife, the clasp, the scissors, the hammer, the chip axe, the hand drill and the pincers. Masks are remains of a strange, symbolical world which is getting lost in the industrialized world of today.
Romanians are getting to adopt the western lifestyle in the last years as a result of Romania’s entry into the EU in 2007. Specialised stores are quickly becoming out of date as people prefer to shop in larger hypermarkets or department stores because of a wide variety of products at cheaper prices than in smaller shops. It has been realised that there are a high number of Romanian consumers who have developed a taste for shopping as a leisure activity, especially from the capital and a few other big cities in Romania.
As earlier Bucharest is the center of the business life here you can find more shops, stores and possibilities. Nowadays the multinational players decided to switch focus from Bucharest to other country regions. They started to interesting especially the large cities, but also smaller towns. Currently there are several shopping centre and commercial centre projects. They are not planned only in Bucharest but also in the bigger cities of Romania with more than 100.000 inhabitants.
1.) Baneasa Shopping City (Bucharest, Sos. Bucuresti-Ploiesti 42D.):
Baneasa Shopping City is situated in the north part of Bucharest, few minutes from Henri Coanda International Airport, next to Baneasa International Airport. This is the first real mega-mall in Bucharest with its more than 220 shops. You can find here many kind of shops: Arlington, Cavaliere, Dada, Douglas, Elle, Esprit, Gas, Humanic, Jennifer, Mango, Marina Rinaldi, Marks & Spencer, Next, Promod, Quicksilver, Reebok, Replay, Apple, Triumph, Peek & Cloppenberg, Oviesse, Zara and lot of others. The list is endless. There are many possibilities also to eat: Burger King, Cafe Nescafe, KFC and also Pizza Hut. It is not easy to arrive here and on the weekend is full with people. You better to visit it though midweek. It is open 10:00-22:00, Restaurants open 10:00-23:00.
2.) Plaza Romania (BD. Timisoara Nr.26Z, et. 12, Sector 6, Bucharest):
It has been opened in 2004 with more than 150 stores on 6.000 m2. It offers 2.400 parking places, moviecomplex with 11 screens, amusement center, bowling alleys and electronic games, fitness, restaurants, coffee shops and fast food and also bank. You can find the following brands and shops: Sunglass Hut, Adidas, Leonardo, Cavaliere, Zara, Dada, Lee Cooper, Levi’s, Zapp, Vodafone, Credit Europe Bank, Lotto, Nike, Puma, Reebok, Timberland, Springfield, Diesel, Promod, Mango, Miss Sixty, and also many others. In Plaza Romania there are exchange offices, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC and caffe bars like Jacobs. Plaza offers places just for relax Play Planet, Viva Casino as well as Wellness Club. Opening hours: 10.00 – 22.00.
3.) City Hall (Sos. Oltenitei 2, Bucharest):
Located only five minutes away from the Unirii Square, in Eroii Revolutiei Square, City Mall is currently the only complex supplying modern shopping & entertainment services to the entire south semicircle of Bucharest, where more than 700.000 people live. Often regarded as one of the most elegant and spectacular mall in Bucharest, City Mall registers a total surface of 38.000 sqm out of which 1.000 sqm are public spaces. The building is structured on 3 basements, a lobby and four floors, offering a surface of 19.000 sqm for commercial renting.
In December 2007, City Mall opened a new modern parking building, a 31.000sqm surface construction that has more than 11 stores height, plus a basement and a mezzanine. Besides its 1000 parking places, the new parking space, also includes a commercial area and an entertainment area (Max Bet Casino).
The parking building is connected to the mall via a unique structure in Romania, a specially designed suspended tunnel that resembles a submarine. City Mall is permanently improving its tenants mix, trying to fulfill the customers needs and the market trends.
Shopping at City Mall means more than one hundred stores offering a large range of world renowned brands including: Hondos Center, Motor Jeans, Camel Active, Killtec, Stone Creek, Kenvelo, Office Shoes or Columbia Sportswear (lobby), Timberland, Nautica, Benvenuti, Lotto, Triumph, Jolidon, TinaR , Skiny (first floor) and many more. When it comes to technology and services, stores like Sony Center, Germanos, UltraPro Computers, Orange, Vodafone, Zapp, Diverta, Banc Post, Credit Europe Bank, EcoClean, beauty shop GaAL Studio, Tabac Shop and many others offer their best. The newly created commercial spaces in the car park mean new tenants: BCR, Raiffeisen Bank, Emporiki Bank, Piraeus Bank, Billa, Max Bet Casino, Domo. City Mall offers a large range of opportunities for your entertainment, whether its bowling, pool, snooker, karaoke, cinema or a various amount of restaurants and coffee shops in the food court (second floor).
The bowling and pool locations on the third floor are opened till late and offer edgy technology equipment. The Max Bet Casino located in the City Mall parking building awaits its clients on a 24/7 basis. Parents can enjoy shopping or having a meal while their children are having fun in the designated Kids Planet playground. The running schedule for the stores is 10:00 - 22:00.
4.) Mario Plaza (Calea Dorobantilor 172, Bucharest):
MARIO PLAZA, a small shopping center located in the fancy area of the city. Established in July 1997, MARIO PLAZA has been fully renovated to meet the western shopping standards. It is carefully maintained to be a friendly place for shoppers and visitors. The 30 shops offer you a wide range of products, from clothing, jewels and watches to home. Quality shopping in a special atmosphere – that is what Mario Plaza is about: a place where you always enjoy yourself. Mario Plaza opened its doors in 1997 and, out of the desire to create a place where you can always have a good time while shopping for quality products. A friendly place that you can’t leave empty-handed even if you only buy a small gift or drink a coffee, a place you will certainly want to go back to. For that, by carefully selecting the companies selling and exhibiting within Mario Plaza, we are trying to offer you quality products, products of world renown companies, such as Stefanel, Wolford, Vileroy & Boch, LCWaikiki, or products of famous Romanian shops, like Sarra Blu, Casa Mia, Privilege and many others.
There are also other big stores such as Bucuresti Mall, Jolie Ville Mall, Liberty Center, The Grand Avenue, Unirea Shopping Center, Feeria Shopping Center, World Trade Plaza Shopping.