The Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse

This year marks the 100 year anniversary of the modern Romanian state. Therefore, that makes The Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse (Sunday, June 24, 2018) celebration even more special. On this summer day, Romanians gather all over the world to celebrate Ia, one of our national identity symbols.

Romanian folk costumes encapsulate not just simple signs and symbols on clothing to obtain an amazing aesthetic effect. For the wearer, it carries a great energetic, religious and spiritual significance. The traditional handmade embroidered motifs give the wearer different things. A cross, for example, brings protection against bad, the evil eye, or expel spells and hatred. The diamond, or flower, or sun bring harmony, happiness and peace.

Romanian ethnic blouse
Romanian Lady (1882). Painting by Frederick Arthur Bridgman (oil on canvas)

Consequently, it would have been impossible for The Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse not to be given such importance. It’s also an opportunity to show and strengthen the unity of all Romanian communities living abroad. This celebrations also welcome all those who love and appreciate Romania and its culture. 

Social Media hashtags you can use to promote this global event:

  • #ZiuaIei, #iaday2018, #ia(cityname)2018, #June24, #24iunie, #ziuaieie2018, #LaBlouseRoumaine, #RomanianBlouse, #RomanianTraditionalCostumes, 

Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse – celebrations around the world

Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse
Celebrating the Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse across the globe

The Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse is a celebration of the traditional Romanian blouse (ia) uniting Romanians and people around the globe who cherish our traditional folk costume. Here are some of the major events I have gathered to share them with you. I shall do my best to update it as often as possible, so you can revisit this post.

  • Antwerpen, Belgium — The local organizers of the fifth edition hope to bring together this year over 100 Romanians and Belgians who appreciate our beautiful Ia.
  • Castellon, Spain — The third edition of the event is organized in Castellon by Asociación Rumanos en La Plana Association with the support of Centrul Civic Român, Uniunea Cultural Română and Asociación Rumanos en La Vall.
  • Coventry, United Kingdom Romanians will meet in front of Lay Godiva statue and walk towards Trinity Road. Attending the event will give you the chance to taste delicious Romanians sweets and cookies. Shared, but also admire the traditional costumes.  
  • Frankfurt, Germany — Whether you live here or you are just passing by, join the reunion taking place in front of the City Hall at 5PM local time; the event is hosted by Saint Bartholomew Romanian Orthodox Parish.
  • Gelderland, Netherlands — Hoge Veluwe National Park welcomes two days of Romanian customs and traditions. There are 25 traditional craftsmen from Romania, more than 30 stalls with food, drinks and Romanian folk tradition and five various exhibitions. You can also watch movies and documentaries, but the one worth special mentioning is “Between Earth and Heaven on the Path of Souls” about sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi. Music will be represented by top Romanian top artists and ensembles.
  • Ljublajana, Slovenia — Slovenian Ethnographic Museum with the support of the Romanian Embassy in Ljublajana will host a very special exhibition displaying traditional costumes from private collections, but also some from the Muzeului Național al Țăranului Româ. The curator of the exhibition is PhD Corina Gabriela Duma, professor at Bucharest Arts National University.
  • New York, United States — Dressed in Ia, the traditional blouse, or a shirt with Romanian design elements, people will gather in Washington Square Park for a celebration picnic.
  • Rome, Italy — The Romanian Cultural Institute along with other important contributors organize a series of events dedicated to the 100 year Romanian Union and The Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse. You can attend popular art workshops or Valahia National Orchestra concert at Accademia di Romania Art Gallery.  Femininity and adornments exhibition will give you an amazing view of the Romanian folk costumes from various regions of the country, hats and scarfs, hand-painted furniture and decorations, fabrics and pieces of jewellery.  
  • Washington, United States Washington celebration will take place in Lafayette Square in front of the White House. It is worth mentioning that this is the same location wherein 2015 the proclamation issued by the Mayor of Washington, DC was read. It recognized June 24 as the Day of the Romanian Folk Costume in the Nation’s Capital and thus conferring its first official recognition.
  • Waterloo, Ontario, Canada — Celebrate the Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse with traditional folk dances, sewing workshop and dance workshop! Chapeau to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who officially recognized The Universal Day Of The Romanian Blouse last year on June 24.

How we celebrate the Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse

As expected The Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse is celebrated in Romania by hundreds are events in all parts of the country. Some of the celebrations start as early as on June 20 and end on June 24. Happenings cover free markets, concerts, exhibitions, workshops, presentations etc. Below you can find some of the events designed by local organizers, so if it happens you are in Romania starting June 21st, have a look at the list below:

Bucharest loves the Romanian Ia

As far Bucharest is concerned, there are several events, but I would like to start by letting you know that there are certain hotels, restaurants and clubs that offer special treatments.

On June 24, ladies wearing the Romanian traditional blouse visiting The President club (Tei Park) will enjoy a fresh lemonade on the house. Few hotels situated in historical buildings in Bucharest together with Iiana, a local brand producing Romanian traditional clothing, decided to join forces and promote the Romanian blouse and present it to their guests in a novel way. The ladies working at the reception desk at Hotel CismigiuLe Boutique Hotel Moxa and Grand Hotel Continental will welcome their guests wearing the traditional Romanian Blouse. The blouses are hand-sewn with traditional patterns and symbols from different parts of the country.

June 23, Summer Solstice celebration

One of my favourite boutiques in downtown Bucharest is deDor, the place where I can always find vintage original handmade folk costumes, but also exquisite Romanian souvenirs. The reason I mention deDor is that they not only sale beautiful things but because each year they keep the Romanian traditions alive by organizing various events. And this is the case with June 23, when we celebrate Sânziene, the summer solstice! 

Sânziene Day @ deDorThe northern summer solstice is relevant in many Christian cultures as the feast of Saint John (also known as St. John’s Eve, Ivan Kupala Day, Litha) is celebrated from June 23 to 24. Generally speaking, the summer solstice is connected in various cultures with honouring the fertility of Mother Earth, so crops will be good. There are plenty of festivals, holidays and rituals, Sânziene is just one of them. 

On the night of June 23, starting 9PM, women gather at deDor to celebrate the Sânziene, the night when the gates of the sky open and fairies come down on Earth. In the Romanian folklore, Sânziene is the name given to gentle fairs. The etymology of the name goes to San which is a common abbreviation of Saint and Zână (fairs). The word Sânziana (singular for Sânziene) is also a girl’s name. 

Women and men altogether will experience on the oldest tradition related to Sânziene night. Dressed in traditional ethnic blouses, women will make floral crowns of Sânziene flowers. This is Romanian name for Lady’s bedstraw or Yellow bedstraw (Lat. Galium verum). Actor Florin Nan will share authentic stories from the life of the Romanian people and read great poems, while guests enjoy a good glass of local wine. If you plan to attend this event, you need to confirm your presence by sending a message on deDor’s event page.

My Romanian IA

Romanian Wedding Day
My grandparents on their wedding day wearing hand made folk costumes (Photo: personal archive)

As some of you already know, I have a passion for the Romanian ethnic blouse, so I did write about it a few times before. I hope you will find these articles inspiring enough to get you interested in joining our celebration of the Romanian IA.

Top 10 Most Fascinating Facts about Dolphins

Do you remember dolphin Flipper, Alpha & Beta, Hope and Winter, Snowflake, Orca Willy or Jones, the retired Navy dolphin-hacker from Johnny Mnemonic? If you do, it means two things: you’ve met some of the most loved dolphins of the planet that made it to the big screen; also, you already know how lovable they are, just like their relatives swimming in the deep waters of the oceans.

Dolphins – the sacred fish


The Ancient Greeks called dolphins “hieros ichthys” which means sacred fish. They went so far as considering the killing of a dolphin a sacrilegious act and therefore punishable by death.

The name of the dolphin is also linked to the Greeks, as it originally came δελφίς (delphís), “dolphin”, which was related to the Greek δελφύς (delphus), “womb”. The animal’s name can therefore be interpreted as meaning “a fish with a womb“. The name was transmitted via the Latin “delphinus”, which in Medieval Latin became “dolfinus” and in Old French “daulphin”, which reintroduced the ‘ph’ into the word.

In modern languages we now have it as “dolphin” in English, “dupin” in Croatian, “delfino” in Italian, “delfín” in Czech and Spanish, “delfin” in Romanian, “delfiini” in Finish, “dolfijn” in Dutch, or “dolffiniaid” in Welsh.

Dolphin’s quick facts list 

  • Order: Cetacea
  • Scientific name: Delphinadae (oceanic species) and Platanistoidea (river species)
  • Type: Mammal
  • Diet: Carnivore;  
  • Lifespan: 12-20 years
  • Size: 1.2-9.1m long
  • Weight: 40 kg to over 6 tonnes
  • Range: Global, typically found in shallow seawater of the continental shelves

Top 10 Most Fascinating Facts About Dolphins

Dolphins are extraordinarily intelligent, friendly, funny, playful and full of surprises. And with such treats, who can remain immune to their charm? It’s no wonder that Albert Einstein praised them by saying that “There’s no question dolphins are smarter than humans as they play more.”

Here are the top 10 most fascinating things about dolphins that we’ve dug out for you.

1. Nearly 40 species of dolphins

Well-known for their playful character, most dolphins swim in the in shallow areas of tropical and temperate oceans, yet there are some who enjoy living in the rivers. There are over 40 species of dolphins, the most common being the Bottlenose dolphin.

2. Dolphin’s amazing brain

Dolphins are not just lovely creatures, but they are also extremely intelligent. By comparing the ratio size of brain to body, scientists came to the conclusion that dolphins rank second, right after the humans! A dolphin’s brain is 4-5 times larger than those of other animals of similar size.

3. They sleep resting one side of the brain at a time


To prevent drowning while sleeping only half of the dolphin’s brain goes to sleep! The other half remains awake so they can continue to breathe! It is said that dolphins are as smart as apes, and that the evolution of their larger brains is surprisingly similar to humans.

4. Dolphins have 2 stomachs

One is used for storage of food and the other is used for digestion. By the way, dolphins never chew their food, they swallow it as a whole. Their teeth are used only to catch their prey; fish, squid and crustacean are their favourite. Also, a 260-pound dolphin eats about 33 pounds of fish a day.

5. The best sonar in the world

Dolphin sonar is the best in nature and superior to bats’ and man-made sonar. Just like bats, they use echolocation to navigate and hunt, bouncing high-pitched sounds off of objects, and listening for the echoes. Their teeth work as a kind of antenna to pick up the sounds bounced back by their prey during echolocation.

6. Babies protected by midwives

DolphinsDepending on the species, dolphin’s gestation takes 9 to 17 months and mothers breastfeed calves for two or three years. Dolphins have been observed nestling and cuddling with their young. It is in the nature of the dolphins to stick with their mothers between three and eight years before they leave their pod.

7. Dolphins attend the sick relatives

It is said that elephants caring for a crippled herd member is a sign of empathy. Well, we could say the same about the dolphins who are often seen tending to the sick, the ill, old and the injured in their group, which is known as “pod”. If needed, they can help others breathe by bringing them to the surface.

8. Dolphins know how to use tools

It would be an overstatement to call dolphins carpenter, but for sure they know how to use tools! They use broken off sea sponges to protect their noses while they forage! But, make no mistake, dolphins are not the only creatures using tools. Recent studies talk about chimps who use rocks to crack nuts, while others fish for termites with blades of grass. Gorillas gauge the depth of water with the equivalent of a dipstick.

9. Great at healing themselves

DolphinsDolphins have an extremely sensitive skin, so they can easily get injured at the slightest touch of a hard surface. Despite the sensitivity, they have a great healing capacity even from deep wounds like the shark bites. The experts do not have a clear explanation for this phenomenon, especially since they claim that similar mammals suffering from similar wounds would die from a hemorrhage instead.

10. Orca, the killer whale is a dolphin

Though called killer whales, orcas are not whales! Orcas, are the largest of the dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators. With a lifespan in the wild ranging from 50 to 80 years, Orcas can reach up to 32 feet and 6 tons. They feast on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even whales. This is where they also got the nickname of “killer whales”. Orcas (Orcinus orca) are also known for grabbing seals right off the ice. They also eat fish, squid, and seabirds.

April 14, 2018 – Happy Dolphin Day!

Dolphins have a whole day dedicated to their existence for a good reason, as some species of dolphin are endangered, and the biggest threat to their future is man. Let’s raise awareness for the protection of these beautiful creatures.

La Blouse Roumaine and Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse and his La Blouse Roumaine painting are the subject of this new article dedicated to the beauty of the Romanian traditional blouse. When I wrote the first article about IA, little did I know what feedback I would get. So, here I am again with what I hope to be a nice story about colors, symbols and friendship. And you’ll se why I mentioned the latter one!

La Blouse Roumaine … the best known Romanian IA

First of all, few know that French painter Henri Matisse was one of the first to capture the beauty of the Romanian traditional blouse simply called IE. Although he painted and draw many sketches of the Romanian IA, his painting called La Blouse Roumaine is the best known one. It’s an oil-on-canvas painting dated 1940. It measures 92 × 73 cm and is held at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris.

Henri Matisse paintings
Henri Matisse paintings – 1. La Blouse Roumaine (1940) 2. Peasant blouse (1936) 3. La Hongroise a la blouse verte

It took Matisse few years to show the world his Romanian paintings. There were hundreds trials and sketches before there was a Romanian blouses collection. There are plenty of Romanian symbols used in the traditional IA embroidery.

“Each work of art is a collection of signs invented during the picture’s execution to suit the needs of their position. Taken out of the composition for which they were created, these signs have no further use.” (Henri Matisse)

Henri Matisse - drawings
Few sketches of Romanian IAs by Henri Matisse. The second (middle) sketch called “Femme à la blouse roumaine” (1943) was drawn in Vence was sold by Christie’s in 2011 to a private collector for $191,951.

Henri Matisse, Theodor Pallady and the Romanian IA

Furthermore, even fewer know that Matisse’s Romanian paintings were inspired by a collection of traditional blouses he received as a gift from Theodor Pallady. Pallady was and still is one of most famous Romanian painters of all times. Matisse had been friend with Pallady for many years when he got this gift. They met around 1892, in Paris, in Gustave Moreau’s studio were they were working along with Georges Rouault and Albert Marquet.

Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse – 1. Woman Seated in an Armchair, (1940); 2. Still Life With Sleeper (1940)

Matisse’s interest in oriental themes first emerged in the 1920s when he began to express an interest in the interplay of ornamental patterns. This fascination with decorative designs is seen in these works and it will remain with Matisse till the end of his life.

Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse – 1. La Blouse payssane 2. The Dream (1940)

Noteworthy is that in 2012 New York Metropolitan Museum of Art opened “Matisse: In Search of True Painting.” Vogue magazine called it “the eye-opening new exhibition”.  The star painting of the exhibition was Matisse’s voluptuous called “The Dream” (1940), another portrait of a woman sleeping and wearing a Romanian traditional blouse.

Falling in love with colors …

As one would expect from such a great artist as Matisse, his style evolved throughout time, yet he kept the traditional costume as a source of inspiration and ideas. I’m no art expert, but my feeling is that the generous color palette of the Romanian IAs had something to do with this. Matisse’s own personal beliefs about the use of color are most noteworthy:

“Seek the strongest color effect possible… the content is of no importance.

“The use of expressive colors is felt to be one of the basic elements of the modern mentality, an historical necessity, beyond choice.”

Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse – 1. La Gerbe (1953) 2. Stained glass, Chapel of the Rosary (Vence)

“A certain blue enters your soul. A certain red has an effect on your blood-pressure.”

“Color helps to express light, not the physical phenomenon, but the only light that really exists, that in the artist’s brain.”

“Drawing is of the spirit; color is of the senses.”

In conclusion …

Matisse and Pallady’s friendship lasted a lifetime. What neither one of them imagined is that their admiration for our national blouse years later will make the Romanian IA a fashion icon. But, that’s another story worth knowing! And if you want to know more about the Romanian IAs, you can check these two articles: Falling in Love with My Romanian IA and Wearing the Romanian IA on Wedding Day.

Finally, you can also check out on Facebook La Blouse Roumaine or follow on Twitter the stories published by La Blouse Roumaine, the first online community supporting IA, the symbol of the Romanian cultural identity.