Why were people dancing in Square 3? Who were they? And what does it have to do with apple pie?
On the 1st of December, as the sun was shining over square 4, a stall was being set up by the Romanian society.
As a small crowd formed around them, the atmosphere became electric as the purpose of the stall became apparent to the observers.
Traditional Romanian apple pie.
Covered with powdered sugar, the irresistible dish enticed people of all backgrounds, tempting them to take a slice, something which undoubtably improved their morning.
As more and more people came to appreciate the sweetness of the pie, more and more people came towards the stall, as another small group formed, people wearing traditional Romanian clothing.
While there was an air of excitement and happiness, it was clear that there was some sense of stress among the people running the stall, particularly those wearing traditional Romanian clothing.
Just as this became apparent, the group who had gathered around the stall made their way down to Square 3, and some of them along with members of the Students Union cordoned off a perfect circle with tape.
As this went on, an even larger crowd than before had formed around the circle, and people began to murmur about what the event could possibly be.
Just then, the announcement of a traditional dance came from the speaker by the benches, and the people in traditional Romanian clothing gracefully stepped out from behind the pillars next to the SU bar.
The crowd was mesmerised as a perfectly choreographed dance was performed in front of them, seemingly spontaneously, even the usually apathetic people who go past events in the squares like nothing is happening stopped to look at the elegant and free movements on display.
As the dance continued, the dancers locked arms in a circle and began to grab audience members to join them. As some of the audience members were taken by the joyous dancers into the circle, some joined voluntarily.
Meanwhile, some of the dancers were dancing in pairs inside the circle with each other, seamlessly joining the large human circle chain that had formed after they were finished and replaced by another pair.
After all of this, a thunderous applause filled square 3, and the dancers bowed, having successfully performed their celebration of the national day.
However, when the group returned to the stall in square 4, there was a moment of despair, as there was no Apple pie left.
What is Romanian National Day? And what even is a “Romania”?
Your concerns are acknowledged, and luckily the members of the Romanian society had a lot to say about their Carpathian celebration.
Claudiu, one of the dancers on the square, explained that Romanian National Day celebrates “the unification of all Romanians” and that “it’s the day when I’m most proud that I’m Romanian”.
Romanian National Day, or Great Union Day, is celebrated on the 1st of December because it commemorates the union of Transylvania(yes that one), Basarabia (now known as Moldova), and Bukovina with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918 to form Greater Romania.
Romania itself only unified in 1859, after its ruler unified Moldavia in the North and Wallachia in the south to form the United Principalities.
After gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877, the Romanians established a kingdom on the territory of the principalities, known as the Old Kingdom.
Romanian National Day is also important to the Romanians living abroad, such as the community on our campus.
Vasi, Treasurer of the Romanian society, talked about how “being here, celebrating with my new friends in a new environment, that makes me feel very welcome here.”
Elaborating on this, Vasi talked about how “right now, here, in Essex let’s say, we try to celebrate our national day as much as possible.”
It’s clear to see that the Romanians on campus care about this event as the preparation for the dance was intense.
“It took almost two months”, Viviana, the President of the Romanian society described, “two of our society members, Vasi and Carla, did the choreography for it. They’ve researched all over YouTube and all over the internet for choreographies that a feasible to learn in such a short time and that is also fun for everyone.”
“It was quite a thrill” she elaborated, “We practiced at least two times a week, it was a bit hard to get everyone together to practice, we even practiced separately.”
In the end, after all that effort, it was worth it. The Romanian society succeeded in putting on their celebrations for this year and will probably continue to for many more 1st of December.
Were there any other events for National Day?
Well, according to sources, there is a saying that Romanians party for three days straight.
And those sources, aren’t necessarily wrong.
The Romanian society had made it no secret that the hex would be turned into a dancefloor that evening, and it was almost an obligation that it should be reported.
The lights were down, and the music hadn’t come on yet, but the feeling of relief and celebration after the day’s events didn’t need 2000s Romanian dance music to finally hit the people in the room.
As more and more people came in, the music came on, from the classics to songs that weren’t even in Romanian, a good time was unavoidable.
Once again, people from all backgrounds arrived and mingled, friendships were made, celebrations were had, and drinks were spilled (not on any particular person but maybe on their sweater).
The night came to its conclusion at midnight and as usual, people went away to Sub Zero or home, as the Romanians were in the process of living up to their reputation.
The next morning, as if nothing happened, the society had set up a bag decoration workshop in the Atrium.
As people took inspiration from old Romanian art or clothing, interesting designs were drawn, and memories were created. The past two days had been stressful for the organisers due to the effort put in, and something this low maintenance was perfect to end the week on for the society.
Will there be any events in the future?
“Of course, there are going to be loads of events in the future but for now, for this term, we are kind of done” Viviana said, “but for our future term we’re thinking about lots of events, maybe another dance again, at One World Essex in March, so just stay tuned on our Instagram.”
The Romanian Society’s Instagram can be found at @rosocuoe.