Winter usually starts in December, but there are years and years. Some years are milder than others that’s why it’s hard to predict how the winter will be. I remember to have experienced some winters when even in December were positive (above zero) temperatures and some winters where the freezing air was reigning from early November and all shapes and sizes of snowflakes were dancing down the sky ! Therefore, if you travel to Moldova somewhere between late November and late February, be prepared to face some days with very cold days.
But how bad can it be?
Some people are used to think and consider Moldova something similar with Siberia…I guess I have to disappoint those people, Moldova is not something like that. The good, warm and sunny weather starts from mid March until late October, and in Summer time temperatures go up to +35ºC sometimes it’s even hotter!
What about winter? Winter is mild if it’s snowing or if the sky is covered with dense clouds. Clear nights are the worst, but the most beautiful!!! Just try to imagine the white coat of snow and the full moon shining up in the sky, the magic of the sparkling little ice crystals, the heaviness of the snow on trees’ branches and the amazingly rich in stars sky! The light is so strong that you don’t need a torch or a light on such nights!!! You’ll even see your own shadow….how cool is that? 😉
February is known to be the coldest month of the year, but cold arctic air and can reach Moldova earlier…therefore a proper windproof winter jacket / coat is a must! I have to say, that compared with the Netherlands (the country I live in at the moment) or other northern country, in Moldova is not that windy and the air is dry cold, therefore the negative temperatures are not that acute. It starts to be freezing cold at -10ºC and below.
I want to stop a bit here and tell you more about February month. In old times February was called “Blacksmith” or “Wolf month” this because was considered to be a particularly ruthless month, coming up with big frosts and snowstorms. The popular name “Blacksmith” suggests the early preparation for field work and not only, works that villagers had to begin in March when the weather was milder.
When it’s -25ºC and below all the schools and kinder gardens are closed and if you are not attending your courses at university or even not going to work, it’s ok because it’s considered a good motivation.
Local authorities are trying to keep the roads in a good condition, but sometimes the heavy snow will prove to be a headache even to the experienced drivers and to road sweepers.
I love winter and its magic! Just think about Christmas and the New Year’s Eve ….and in Moldova we celebrate twice each of these winter holidays. One pair 🙂 Xmas and New Year’s Eve is the same as in Western Europe and the other pair is celebrated according the old calendar or else said, we celebrate it together with all Orthodox Christians that follow the old calendar (or Julian calendar. This calendar was created under the reign of Julius Caesar in 45 BC ). You might find interesting to know that there are more countries that celebrate Christmas and the New Year according to the old calendar. Countries that celebrate Christmas on the night from 6th to 7th of January are: Belarus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Russia, and the Ukraine. Countries with big communities of Orthodox Christians that follow the Julian calendar are: Romania, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. And, according to the same calendar, the New Year’s eve falls on the night from 13th to 14th of January! 🙂
If you happen to be in Moldova during these winter holidays, make sure to find a host in a village, because there is the right place to be and to experience the TRUE SPIRIT of winter holly days!
What is so special about these days, you would ask. I don’t know about other places, but in Moldova traditions are still alive in the villages and if during the Christmas kids will go from house to house to announce the birth of the Jesus then during the next days your backyard wil be visited by many other people! 🙂
On the New Year’s eve from the morning until late in the night young (from afternoon until midnight – older guys and adults) will knock at your gate, they will have costumes and will use bells, different musical instruments (accordion, drums, Jew’s harp, pipe or whistle) and for this small show the host will give them money, sweets and wine 🙂 The next day, again from early in the morning (old people say after the prayer) kids are coming to “sow” the households. These kids are wishing a very prosperous and good new year, to have a healthy family and (especially for farmers and people who own land) a good year with rains and rich crops. They receive for this sweets, fruits, nuts and coins.
When I was kid and even now, when I go home and it’s cold outside, I love to stay close to a the warm wall called ‘ soba or fireplace/ceramic stove. It feels so relaxing 🙂 Women during this time have a lot of free time for crafting things for their house or for sale in spring 🙂
I hope Moldova will look more interesting and worth a visit, now that you little by little are introduced with the culture, weather 😀 and kitchen (I will dedicate a special post about it).
Travel safe and wise!