Anuarul Muzeului Etnografic al Moldovei – X / 2010


Romanian cultural memory preserves in its folklore the poetic image of Saint Basil the Great, shaped throughout the centuries especially in traditional carols. The icon of Saint Basil the Great has thus moved from the calendar and the church and, passing through the filter of the liturgical texts, it reached folklore. Bearing in mind the connections which Saint Basil had with Romania, the popularity of his intercessions, the liturgy that bears his name and his prominence among the calendar saints, the Romanians’ piety towards him should be no reason of wonder.

The importance of the great Capadoccian hierarch among the saints, but also within the calendar, led to an appreciable primacy along the centuries in Christian piety all over the world. Saint Basil is the saint who is celebrated on the first day of the year and is someone who has attained the peak of holiness. Romanian carols are an important testimony to this effect. In carols from all over Romania, there is a hierarchy of the saints, and Saint Basil holds a specific place in folkloric hagiography. Romanian carols represent Saint Basil together with Saint Peter and other saints, to the right of the Holy Virgin, or living in the same house with Jesus Himself.

Saint Basil’s presence in Romanian carols includes a large number of liturgical and folkloric images such as the crowning of the year, the judge of flowers, the intercessor, Jesus’ close friend, the liturgy creator, the apologist, the warrior, the peace-maker, the exorcist, and the protector of those bearing his name. All of these incorporate in archaic popular culture well-known hagiographic elements, demonstrating the extraordinary receptivity of the Romanians towards the powerful and enlightening figure of this glorious father of the Church.