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Changing the Stars

A friend recently shared with me a surprisingly beautiful Romanian tradition that takes place in the Maramures region. This tradition gave me inspiration to do a little more research on the subject and to write this article. The tradition or the ritual as some might say was performed in order to save a severely sick child from death.

We all have a destiny. Our fate is written in the stars. We cannot change our stories. We cannot change our stars. When we are meant to be born, we are born; when we are meant to fall in love, we do and when we are meant to die, we perish.

In the Maramures area, when a baby grew ill and showed no signs of healing, it was believed a demon took hold of the child and would soon take the baby to the other side. The demon knew when death was approaching as this was foreseen in the baby’s future. The only way to stop the demon from taking the baby was to trick him. How do you trick a demon? By revealing that the child is not the one meant to die, that somehow the demon had mistaken.

The mother of a sick child would open a window and through that window give her baby to a neighbor or any person who was not blood related to the baby (in some cases it is mentioned that a bypasser could be addressed to perform the ritual). With this gesture the mother ‘sold’ the baby and the neighbor or bypasser offered a symbolic price in exchange. During this ceremony, the baby received a new name and symbolically received a new parent. The baby was given a new identity and a chance for a new life. The ‘new’ parent would often remain in the baby’s life as a godparent. The new name was kept as a second name. With this method, the baby’s life was spared, destiny was altered and the demon driven away.

Many mothers believe they ‘saved’ their babies through this tradition. And the tradition is still practiced nowadays.

I am sure this tradition will continue for as long as we live. After all, what mother would not want to change her baby’s stars?

Thank you very much Alina Pop for sharing with me this wonderful tradition and making this article possible.


Words by – Niguanta


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