Men’s group Colindat, Christmas-time ritual

Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): Romania, Republic of Moldova



Men’s group Colindat, Christmas-time ritual

Each year before Christmas, groups of young men gather in villages throughout Romania and the Republic of Moldova to prepare for the ritual of Colindat. On Christmas Eve, they go from house to house performing festive songs. Afterwards, the hosts offer the singers ritual gifts and money. The songs have an epic content, which is adapted to each host’s individual circumstances. Ritual performers also sing special, auspicious songs for unmarried girls and dance with them – a practice said to help them find a husband within the next year. Colindat is sometimes performed in costume, with instrumental accompaniment and choreography. Groups of young men (traditionally unmarried) are the main bearers and practitioners of the element; experienced men, often former group leaders, are responsible for the group’s training. The ritual songs are learned at daily rehearsals from the time the group is formed until Christmas Eve. In some areas, children are allowed to attend these rehearsals in order to learn the repertoire. As well as conveying the season’s greetings, this cultural heritage plays an important role in preserving social identity and ensuring cohesion.


Decision 8.COM 8.24

The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:

  • R.1: Colindat is handed down from generation to generation in a non-formal manner, providing its practitioners in villages of Romania and the Republic of Moldova with a sense of identity and prestige;
  • R.2: Inscription of Colindat on the Representative List could promote visibility of intangible cultural heritage and encourage dialogue among communities in both countries;
  • R.3: Safeguarding measures are elaborated for both States, ranging from regulatory measures to strengthening institutions, characterized by active participation of the practitioners’ communities;
  • R.4: The nomination was prepared in cooperation between experts, civil society associations and communities; the latter provided their free, prior and informed consent;
  • R.5: Colindat is included in Romania in the National Inventory of Living Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage, managed by the National Centre for Preservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture, and in the Republic of Moldova in the National Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage, managed by the Ministry of Culture.



© 23.03.2012 by Institute of Ethnography and Folklore “Constantin Brailoiu”

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