Jun 24, 2020 · by Alina Mihut

Celebrating “IA”, the Romanian Blouse

A story about traditions, culture, and family

On June 24, Romanian women from all over the world celebrate the universal day of IA, Romanian Blouse, symbolizing magic, summer, and love. 

We value traditions and the local culture, and on June 24th, we celebrate each year by bringing to the forefront authentic Romanian values, shared through the eyes of our colleagues who still keep Romanian traditions alive in present day. This year, we challenged everyone to share their pictures with their traditional “Ia” or traditional costume. We received many submissions and were so inspired and encouraged to see each person’s “Ia”, including Mihaela’s story. Mihaela Petronela Manoli joined our Coffee Community, in the Iasi studio in June 2020. And although a newcomer to Cognizant Softvision, she’s no newcomer to Romanian traditions! 

Since graduating in 2013 from the Faculty of Informatics within the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi, she leads her career as a Java Developer. She is passionate about reading (fiction, personal development in particular, and she’s also started to like technical or history books). She enjoys hiking and nature and from time to time she makes handmade felt or etamine things. She eagerly joined Cognizant Softvision mentioning “the professional development opportunities and the Enterprise Coffee community fascinated me to join the company.”

We had the opportunity to talk with Mihaela to find out what June 24th meant for her growing up and how she recognizes it today. 

What does June 24 “Sânziene” mean to you and what memories do you have from childhood about the holiday?

I was born and raised in a village, in a family that values ​​traditions and folk costumes. My mother had always dressed me in traditional costumes ever since I was little – when I went to the church for Easter or the village patron saint, to school celebrations or to take pictures with my family in my grandmother’s flower garden. My first picture in traditional costume was at the age three and a half, and the most recent picture I took today is in honor of the symbolic “Sanzienele” day. As a child, each year on this day I used to go with my mother and grandmother to gather these flowers: sanziene, pojarnita, mouse tail and other medicinal plants that bloomed during this period and which my grandmother carefully put on the dry land, telling us what their name is and what helps each of them. It seems natural to me to celebrate “ia” the Romanian Blouse on “Sanziene” day, as both have classy colors – providing a sense of happiness and the pattern – the flower’s ornament contour – is graved on “ie”.

What is the story of the traditional costume you are wearing in the picture?

The traditional costume I wore in the photo is dear to me, maybe because it was given to me. It’s traditional from the “Bucovina” region and it consists of “ie”, a belt, a wrap skirt. The blouse was given to me for my birthday three years ago by my mother. The wrap skirt is inherited from my mother, she had it from when she was a young girl from her parents and then she gave it to me before entering high school.

Describe the evolution over the years of Romanian traditions, especially the traditional costume.

When I go back to my native village, one of my favorite activities to do is to talk with my grandmother about her childhood and youth – browsing through the photo albums of those times. Looking at black and white photos from her wedding with her grandfather, in which they wore some gorgeous traditional costumes, it has always seemed to me that they were downloaded directly from the pages of the fairy tales with “Fat Frumos” and “Ileana Cosanzeana.” In my grandmother’s childhood, traditional costume wear was the only socially accepted form of clothing (my grandmother told me that her mother had never worn anything, but the customary skirt dress and traditional shirt, with the traditional vest – overcoat in cooler times). Over the years, the comfort offered by modern clothes has taken precedence over the pride of wearing the traditional costume. Many people kept the traditional costume (the blouses, flax pants, and the traditional vests) inherited from their parents and for a while they remained in the closets. About 10 years ago, villagers passionate about traditions and handmade costumes revived the tradition of wearing traditional costumes at the big holidays of the village. Now, at Easter, Christmas or other religious days, people go to church dressed in traditional costumes, with more women relearning the art of sewing beaded shirts. – It’s even an event with traditional music, good vibes –  where your traditional outfit is the golden ticket to checkin or gain entry! In addition to the traditional clothing items that are being made now, a few people who love the authentic costumes are reconditioning those items.

What makes you proud of the local traditions?

I have grown fond of traditions and I proudly wear the costume whenever I have the opportunity. “The Romanian blouse” makes me feel closer to the dear places and moments of childhood. I consider myself an ambassador of those places and at the same time they offer a certain prestige, because in this costume you definitely stay and walk straight. My dearest memory related to the costume is one day, with my husband, I wore it for our religious engagement. I made an arch and it instantly made me happily imagine that this was what my grandparents must’ve looked like years ago from when I was told of their story.

How does today’s technology connect with traditions?

I think that technology can connect well with tradition, as it can be a very good way to promote the traditions we hold dear, whether it’s the traditional costume, the mastery of people who have learned from their ancestors to sew “ii” (the Romanian Blouse), flax pants, the traditional vests, or for those who weave wonderful carpets with traditional motifs, decorate eggs or make New Year’s masks. I am happy to see that their work and creativity can be known outside the borders of the villages where they come from, that they can be a source of inspiration for other cultures as well all thanks to technology.

Alina Mihut
Alina Mihut

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