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Throughout the Christmas season, Romanian children stroll from house to house, sharing Christmas carols, poetry, and legends with their neighbors. Their leader has the honor of carrying the steaua, a large wooden star on a broomstick, covered with shiny paper and decorated with ribbons and bells. In the center of the star we see a picture of the Holy Family. To pay homage to this tradition, our Romanian St. Nicholas carries a steaua as well, as he shows off his holiday finery as well as the many presents in his bell- and-star trimmed sack! St. Nicholas looks ready to partici- pate in many of the Romanian holiday traditions including the capra, or "goat", a traditional dance accompanied by the music of the violin or flute. This dance symbolizes the Romanian folklore that focuses on man's communication with nature as well as his fellow man. But St. Nicholas' main job is to help children of all ages celebrate Christmas on December 25th, complete with presents of every description. Along with his sweet little lamb, the jolly elf arrives in each tiny village and hamlet to share his bounty. Romanian families also enjoy Christmas with traditional foods-espe- cially pork-prepared according to a ritual that is hundreds of years old.
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