Romania is a central European country known for the forested region of Transylvania, preserved medieval towns such as Sighisoara and many fortified churches and castles, notably clifftop Bran Castle (think Dracula!) The culture of Romania is a unique culture, which is the product of its geography and its distinct historical evolution.
December 1st is the National Day of Romania, also called Great Union Day (Romanian: Ziua Marii Uniri) or Unification Day (Romanian: Ziua Unirii), marking the unification of Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. The process of Romanian unification started earlier that year with the union of Bessarabia, which had gained independence from the Russian Empire, with the Kingdom of Romania, followed by Bukovina on November 28th, and completed on December 1st, with the Alba Iulia National Assembly, where 1,228 elected representatives of the Romanians in Transylvania, Banat, Crișana, and Maramureș, convened and decreed „the unification of those Romanians, and of all the territories inhabited by them, with Romania.” On this date, 103 years later, Romanians around the world celebrate their National Day.
In Wales this year, The National Day of Romania was celebrated at Swansea Grand Theatre in a different manner than the usual, it is the first time the flag of Romania was hoisted at the Guildhall, in Swansea, and a screening in Wales of an exceptional historical diorama: ‘Queen Marie of Romania’ was premiered after the official proceedings of welcoming the guests of honour.
The reception was hosted by the Honorary Consulate of Romania in Wales; Honorary Consul, Diana Stroia-Matthews; who has been here for a number of years, and is well known and popular in the community, Mr. Alexandru Dodan, Deputy Ambassador of the Romanian Diplomatic Mission in London was the guest of honour, with a high number of officials, both British as well as Romanian. The most well-known attendees were: Mrs Louise Fleet, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant, Mrs Joanna Jenkins, High Sheriff of West Glamorgan, Cllr Mary Jones, Lord Mayor of Swansea, Cllr Andrea Lewis, Deputy Leader of Swansea City Council, Mrs Alina Balațchi-Lupașcu, co-founder of Romanian Women in the UK and Dr Nistor Becia, President of the Union of Professional Journalists in the UK were present at this event.
Mrs Diana Stroia-Matthews, Honorary Consul, greeted everyone with a welcoming speech celebrating the National Day of Romania and welcoming distinguished guests after which followed several speeches. Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant, Mrs Louise Fleet JP mentioned in her speech the connection of the British Royal Family with Romania and in particular Prince Charles’ passion for Transylvania. Cllr Mary Jones, Lord Mayor of Swansea, showed her admiration for the traditional Romanian costume, which captured her interest, and Mr Alexandru Dodan, Deputy Ambassador, highlighted the importance of December 1st for Romanians and that the Romanian community in the UK, one of the biggest minority groups, plays a major role in the British economy and way of life and is a huge asset for bilateral relations.
The venue was decorated in keeping with the occasion – flowers and drapes in the colours of the Romanian flag, whilst in the background Romanian traditional music was setting the sounds and the vibration of the country. The national anthem of the UK, Wales and then Romania was sung with notable passion as part of the official proceedings.
Later after the event, there was the opportunity to socialise and enjoy the vibrant culture with a night of traditional dining at Milano’s restaurant just around the corner and actually part of the same building. Here dinner was served with Romanian specialities, and there was something for everyone’s taste. Dinner was followed by a charity auction aimed at selling art objects made by the children from The Saint Leontie settlement in Romania, which is home to 126 children, souls that have been hard tried by life. The Honorary Consul, Mrs Diana Stroia-Matthews, also awarded certificates of appreciation to members of the Romanian community who are promoting Romanian values.
It’s fair to say that most people don’t know much about Romania or sometimes have negative stereotypes. It is hoped that this event has shown the officials and the guests how much Romania has to offer and raised the Romanian community and country’s profile.
The initiative and the continuous efforts made by the Honorary Consul, Mrs Diana Stroia-Matthews, are to be admired,not only for the organisation of this event, which of course came with additional health security measures, but also for her involvement in general in representing the Romanian community in Wales.