Romanian New Year’s Eve traditions: Plugusorul

‘Plugusoruľ (The Little Plough) is one of the major Romanian traditions for New Year’s Eve, marked not necessarily through grandiose, opulent celebrations, but through necessary ceremonies to help farmers in the new year. The Little Plough symbolizes the main occupation of the Romanian peasantry.

This tradition is usually cold Plugusorul – The Little Plough (or The Big Plough), with the ploughmen visiting families to wish them for rich crops in the year that is about to start.
It seems that this tradition has appeared in ancient Rome. ‘Plugusoruľ is performed during two subsequent December 31-January 1, children and youngsters visiting each house with a small plough and whips, which they crack at the order of the leader, with the most skilled of them to be offered the opportunity to wish the hosts health and fortune.

This tradition is continued on January 1, when a group of young men carry a real plough from yard to yard simulating tilth. In the old times, people used to carry a real plough, with four or even six oxen, decorated with fir and coloured paper, with the animals being decorated too and carrying little mirrors and a special bread around their horns.

When they used a real plough, the ploughmen used to draw a furrow in the yard of the farmers they visited, with one of them coming from behind wearing a huge bag, from which he sows wheat and autumn barley. In the end people offer in exchange for the wishes for prosperity nuts, bread, fruits and money. The ploughmen are teenagers and children carrying whips, bells and pipes in their hands.

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