This month has been filled with holidays – it started with Valentine’s Day, Dragobette and Martisor and has continued with the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th and a late celebration of the Chinese New Year.
International Women’s Day:
Women’s Day is an international holiday celebrated every year on March 8th. This holiday is a big deal in Moldova and is the equivalent of Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and a celebration of all women in your life – from sisters, friends, female co-workers, ect. It’s traditional to have masas (large celebratory meals) to celebrate this holiday, as well as to give gifts to the females in your life for this holiday.
To celebrate this holiday my boyfriend made me a lovely dinner and pushed me to go for my first run of the spring. (He was a college runner and is in much better shape than I am, so the run for me was a challenge, for him, not so much.) I also went to a masa at the house of another Peace Corps Volunteer, with her host mother and friends. The other Peace Corps Volunteer made fudge for her host mom for Women’s Day and all the Moldovan guests loved the fudge, so that was a great culture sharing experience, discussing deserts in America and how they are made.
Chinese New Year:
The Chinese New Year is celebrated traditionally at the beginning of the lunar year. This holiday is traditionally celebrated by a large traditional feast, fireworks, red envelopes and many other traditions. Before the New Year it is traditional to clean the house and pay all debts, not doing either of these is considered bad luck (the same belief is also held in Moldova regarding how to start the New Year).
While the Chinese New Year was actually about a month ago, we postponed our celebration until all of the Peace Corps Volunteers in Balti could be in town for this dinner. Two of the six Peace Corps Volunteers in Balti are of Chinese descent and they organized the dinner and created the menu.
The dinner was a great chance to learn more about their traditions celebrating this holiday and to share these with several Moldovan friends. We had an enormous a delicious chinese feast and red envelopes with chocolate coins instead of the traditional real money. There were also some people setting off fireworks outside the apartment, so we got to enjoy those as well.