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Moldova won the 3rd place in the contest of the most beautiful postage stamps in Europe

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The Republic of Moldova is among the winners of the competition for the most beautiful postage stamp in Europe, called “Europe’s Castles”. Thus, following the online vote, the awards were won by the Turkish Post (gold medal); Poczta Polska (silver) and Poşta Moldovei (stamp “Castle Mimi” – bronze medal).

This year, a record number of 58 philatelic samples was registered in the contest and the winners were elected on the basis of online voting.

The results of this year’s “EUROPA Stamp” competition were revealed at the PostEurop Plenary Assembly in Bucharest.

Castle Mimi is a unique destination of international interest in the Republic of Moldova. The castle was founded in 1893 by the last governor of Bessarabia Constantin Mimi. In 2016, the castle was reopened to the public after the most extensive restoration project in the recent history of the Republic of Moldova.

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Why do some Moldovans celebrate Christmas on January 7th?

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Today, many of the Orthodox Christians are celebrating Christmas. Religious services are held in churches and, after visiting the holy places – parishioners celebrate together with their families.

Traditionally, during the “Birth of Jesus Christ,” Metropolitan Cathedral in Chisinau, the ministry is officiated by a group of priests headed by Vladimir, the Metropolitan of Chisinau and the whole of Moldova.

Old-style Christmas is celebrated in countries that have decided to respect the old Julian calendar, including the Russian Federation. This is almost two weeks behind the Gregorian one.

The Romanian Orthodox Church passed the new calendar on October 1, 1924.

There are, however, a few Orthodox Churches with the unadulterated Julian calendar, such as: the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Russian Church and the Serbian Church, as well as the Monasteries of the Holy Mountain Athos, with the exception of the Vatoped, which are called “old-style” because they celebrate Easter and all the holidays following the old calendar.

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Why do Moldovan people celebrate Christmas two times?

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Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Eritrea and Lebanon – the countries where Christmas is celebrated twice a year. In these countries, the government decided to officialise two Christmas holidays – December 25th and January 7th. Why is it so? Well, there are several reasons for that. Let’s take the case of the Republic of Moldova.

Historical reasons

According to The Economist, the reason of this Yuletide surplus lies deep in history. In 1582, the reform of the Julian calendar was approved by the Pope Gregory XIII. He omitted 10 days of the calendar, correcting the Julian calendar so that it corresponds to the real, astronomical one. Thus, the Julian calendar, which dated from 45BC, was replaced by the new Gregorian calendar. Many European countries quickly switched over, though others took centuries, as is mentioned in the article.

Russia, for example, adopted the Gregorian calendar only in 1918, after the Soviets came to power. They had to switch from celebrating the Christmas holiday on January 7th and the New Year coming on January 13th to celebrating Christmas on December 25th and the New Year Holiday one week later. However, the atheist Soviet Union didn’t recognize Christmas as a public holiday. Therefore, the transition to the Gregorian calendar for all post-soviet countries happened only in the case of the New Year. The transition of the Christmas celebration was delayed even more, some people celebrating this holiday under the rose, as they were used to before – on January 7th.  Others, hence, weren’t celebrating Christmas at all, as in the Soviet Union the New Year had been promoted as the main winter holiday. The main consequence of this tangle: nowadays, Moldovan people celebrate two Christmases. One is before the New Year’s celebration, a frugal check mark of the ‘new’ western European style Christmas. Another one is after the New Year’s celebration, the ‘old’ eastern European style, dictated by the traditions and the Moldovan church.

Religious reasons

Today, the local Orthodox churches from Romania, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and Alexandria celebrate Christmas with the Gregorian calendar. Whereas the Russian, Serbian, Georgian, as well as the Moldovan Orthodox churches still celebrate Christmas (and other orthodox holidays as well) with the Julian calendar, which runs 13 days late. The opinion of the church, just as in case of the society of the Republic of Moldova is also divided.

First, it is important to mention that there are two official metropolises in Moldova: The Metropolis of Moldova, which is a self-governing church under the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Metropolis of Bessarabia – a self-governing metropolis under the Romanian Orthodox Church. The church division in Moldova is another source of conflict between those that celebrate the Christmas according to the Julian calendar (as the Metropolis of Moldova requires) and those that celebrate it according to the Gregorian one (as the Metropolis of Bessarabia demands). The paradox here is that the Metropolis of Moldova ignores the fact that, when following the Julian calendar, people must celebrate Christmas after the New Year, which contradicts the church canons and the logic of the holiday.

Divided between east and west

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the new formed republics had to decide the day of Christmas celebration. The Republic of Moldova chose January 7th and later, in 2013, also approved the public holiday on the date of December 25th. It was conditioned by the fact that there are Christians in Moldova who celebrate the feast according to both Julian and Gregorian calendars.

According to a survey conducted by the Institute of Marketing and Surveys IMAS in 2013, 24% of the Moldovan people celebrate Christmas twice a year. The poll was conducted as telephone interviews, on a sample of 807 respondents from both cities and villages. The error margin was 3.5%.

The folklorist Tudor Colac from the Institute of Philology of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova noted for timpul.md that the Moldovan citizens have always celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar. “Traditionally, except for some short periods, the ‘new’ style Christmas was celebrated on the territory of Moldova, but with the Russian annexation in 1812, it was transferred to the old rite. At the same time, in some southern Moldovan districts and in some of the northern localities, people have always kept the holidays in the ‘new’ style. There is nothing strange about what is happening to us, it is a natural process,” claimed Colac. In the same time, the folklorist disapproved the dualism of the Christmas celebration by the Moldovan society: “The younger population tries to follow the Europe’s way of celebration. The older population, which is celebrating the ‘old’ style Christmas on January 7th, is trying to accept that it can be celebrated differently, under the pressure of the younger generation. It is a fretfulness, a dualistic movement in the society but it will clarify in time.”

Featured photo source: libertatea.ro

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UTA Gagauzia is becoming more and more attractive for tourists

Funded by the European Union of €6.5 million implemented by UNDP, the Program “Supporting Agriculture and Rural Development in ATU Gagauzia and Taraclia District” (SARD) aims to enhance cooperation between central and local authorities as well as the one between regional Gagauzia and Taraclia district, for the social and economic development of the region and the Republic of Moldova as a whole. The SARD Program carries out activities to empower communities, rehabilitate social infrastructure, promote inter-community cooperation and implement the LEADER European Rural Development Initiative in ATU Gagauzia and Taraclia.

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The first Gagauz tourist complex in Moldova was inaugurated on November 6 in the village of Congaz, Comrat district. In addition to the four traditional peasant houses with clay walls and reed roofs, the “Gagauz Sofrasi” ethno-touristic complex now has a museum, a cellar, a restaurant with a national-style terrace, a mini-hotel, and a festivities hall.

“Tourism is a niche with great potential but not yet explored in our region. With the help of the European Union, we have succeeded not only in creating a perfect resting place for local and foreign tourists but also an unforgettable tourist attraction for Gagauzia. Visitors can get to know the traditions and history of the country, enjoy traditional Gagauz dishes and the best wines in the area and even participate in gourmet workshops,” says the owner of the complex, Ana Statova.

For the development and promotion of this complex, the owner benefited from counseling and an 18,500 EUR grant from the European Union through the SARD program implemented by UNDP.

The resting park set up on the river Cahul was also inaugurated, which was rehabilitated for a length of 3 km with the assistance of the European Union and the contribution of local and regional public authorities within the SARD program. Over many years, the river crossing the city was a threat to the inhabitants. It hasn’t been cleaned for years and became misty, so after some more heavy rain, the river swelled and flooded all the nearby households. Vulcanesti Mayor Victor Petrioglo said that due to the floods, the local budget lost more than 2 million lei annually, or about 15% of the local budget.

The total cost of the Cahul River Cleaning and Park Planning was €126,942, of which €70,000 was provided by the European Union, and the difference was covered by the regional and community budget.

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