Happy New Year 2023: Moldova

Much like Russia, the ex-Soviet republic of Moldova celebrates New Year on December 31/January 1 on a large scale with a much more muted Christmas on January 7. However, in recent years, more people in Moldova — especially the young — have started to celebrate Christmas on December 25 like most Christians around the world. This holiday is called Crăciunul and allows for a “Double Christmas”. The word is thought to derive from the Moldovan creare, meaning “creation” in the sense of birth. In 2013, Moldova officially declared December 25 and January 1 as public holidays and most people put aside geopolitics and celebrate both sets of holidays.

Before Christmas, a six-week fast is held. This runs from November 15 to December 24 for those who celebrate in the new style and from from November 28 to January 6 for those who celebrate in the old style. Christmas Eve is the last day of fasting. During the fast, it is forbidden to eat meat, milk or eggs. Lentil baking is permitted (non-animal products only) as are pickles, peas, beans, potatoes, polenta, fruit and vegetables.

Many young Moldovans now celebrate Christmas with friends on December 25 and with their parents on January 7.

The Christmas table is set with cake, cabbage rolls, piftija — a traditional meat aspic served as an appetizer, caltaboș — a liver-based pork sausage, and red wine. There is also the custom of eating polenta for Christmas, usually with magical connotations.

The singing of Christmas carols is a popular tradition, particularly in the villages and young carolers are given coins or gifts such as bread rolls, nuts and various sweets.

Posta Moldovei issued a pair of stamps on December 9, 2022, one marking Christmas and the other wishing a Happy New Year. They were designed by Oleg Cojocari and each measure 34 x 34 mm. They were printed using offset lithography in sheets of eight stamps per design. The 2.60 Moldovan leu stamp portrays a stylized Christmas tree while the 8.15 L denomination pictures an ornament dated “2023”. There were 15,000 copies of each stamp printed.

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