December 1 – National Holiday in Romania

Posted on December 1, 2013

People in Romania are celebrating the unification of Romanian provinces into one nation today.

Transylvania and two smaller regions joined together with Moldova and Wallachia on this date in 1918 to make “Greater Romania”—which is why this holiday is sometimes called “Great Union Day.”

Wait! Transylvania?

Yes, that Transylvania. The one we associate with vampires, thanks to Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. (Of course such vampires and Dracula are fictional.)

There is a gorgeous castle in Transylvania that is named Bran Castle but that is often called Dracula's Castle. For no good reason, apparently; Dracula author Stoker was inspired by a prince named Vlad the Impaler as he wrote his fictional tale, but Vlad had no real connection with Bran Castle, and Stoker himself had a locale in the Transylvanian Alps in mind for his fictional castle for his fictional character! Still, I can understand how tempting it is to lure tourists with the familiar name... Speaking of tourists, the tourists who visit Bran Castle can admire the art and furniture collected by Queen Marie and can then go to the open air museum outside the castle, where a traditional Romanian peasant cottage, a barn, and other structures are on exhibit.

Transylvania is known for its beautiful scenery.

There is a lot more to Romania than just Dracula and Transylvania, of course! There is the world-famous Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, and of course many other great Romaniangymnasts, including rhythmic gymnasts, over the years. The scientist who discovered insulin, Nicolae Paulescu, was Romanian, and many other discoveries in science and innovations in technology have been made in Romania. It is said to be among the nations with the highest number of computer programmers in the world—even though the country is smaller than the U.S. state of Michigan.

One thing that is unusual about Romania is that in 2005 its currency radically changed. Four zeroes were dropped from the monetary unit, which is called a leu. What would've cost 10,000 leu with the old money now cost just one leu with the new, reduced-zero money. That must've taken some getting used to!

(Of course, that didn't mean that everyone was suddenly rich! If a worker was earning 300,000 old leu an hour, he started earning 30 new leu an hour (which would be close to ten U.S. dollars an hour).

By the way, it seems that Romania is taking steps to convert to the euro. That would be another enormous shift in money matters within just a decade!

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1 comment:

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