The Feast of Saint Andrew in Romania is celebrated with a public holiday on 30 November each year. Saint Andrew was the first of the apostles of Jesus Christ who preached Christianity in the southern part of Romania. As a result, Saint Andrew is also considered the patron saint of the country.
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Today, Saint Andrew’s Day is celebrated similarly to any other religious holiday in the country; however, some old pre-Christian superstitions and traditions have survived.
In ancient times, the Dacians of the region celebrated another divinity – the Santandrei or the master of the wolves. Also, 30 November marked the end of fall and beginning of winter, the season when wolves formed into packs of 12 to help prepare for the harsh winter ahead. Due to this, the day was known as the Day of the Wolves with unique rituals associated with it.
The time that the majority of beliefs, customs, and magical rituals are present is Saint Andrew’s Eve. It is tradition that Saint Andrew descends at midnight on earth to share with each wolf the prey they need for the winter ahead. Even today, it is believed a wolf becomes so light-footed and agile on this day that no prey can escape.
However, Saint Andrews is not just about wolves. It is also believed that the spirits of the dead can re-enter into the world of the living on this night due to the profound disturbance present in the cosmic order. As a result, many Romanians believe they are going to suffer torment from spirits, vampires, and the moroi, which is why they take measures to protect themselves. These include rubbing the windows and doors with cloves of garlic and preparing garlic dishes.