Book exhibition ”The Magic of Christmas”

On 19 December 2022, at the “Mihai Eminescu” Central University Library, we had the opportunity to attend the opening of the book exhibition “The Magic of Christmas”, which introduced us, both visually, through the collection of documents presented belonging to the library’s heritage, and by word of mouth, through the presentation made by prominent guests at this event, into the story of a special Iasi, where balls, good will and traditions characterized the winter holiday season.

Prof. dr. Florea Ioncioaia (Faculty of Letters of “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi), Mrs. Alina Țiței Ioncioaia (publicist and documentary filmmaker), Mrs. Irina Tacu Cociu (tour guide at TravelBlitzz) and Mrs. Sorina Dănăilă (teacher and tour guide at CityID), told the story of that Moldavian city of light, traditions, balls and feasts at the noble houses, where all the aristocratic and popular Iasi people prepared with delight for the winter holidays, full of song, dance and feasting. This was the period of La Belle Époque (1871-1914), when the city experienced its most prosperous economic development and shone with the diversity of activities that took place, adapted to all social categories. The custom of decorating the Christmas tree at the Roznovanu Palace, the attraction for children and adults alike to go skating, the organisation of Venetian seances with electric lights (a rarity at the time), the shows at the ”Sidoli” Circus, which turned into a real celebration of joy and excitement, all shaped the magic of Christmas.„

The most awaited events were balls and parties hosted by the city’s elite – the famous Rosetti, Cantacuzino, Mavrocordat, Catargiu, Pașcanu families. Christmas balls resembled the great parties of European cities, where the highest social strata gathered to dance “until dawn” and feast on the finest foods.

And because the festive meals at the Bohemian houses were spectacular and abundant, a tasting of chocolate, as well as wines from the Hermeziu wine cellar, accompanied the opening, reminding us of the wealth of the city’s bourgeoisie.

The carefully cooked delicacies, prepared by the skill of a confectioner, introduced the guests to the atmosphere of the past. So, the tasty foray back in time could not have been achieved without the involvement of the librarian Mihaela Tatiana Ulman (Department of Research and Bibliographic Information), who took care to bring a distinguished touch to the opening by the fine dishes prepared, and to bring to life the story of Iasi in the glow of the winter sunsets, through the diversity of materials carefully selected and displayed in the exhibition space of the library.

From 19 to 23 December 2022, guests were able to admire a selection of Christmas-themed books in three sections. The section “Christmas customs and traditions” highlighted a very diversified repertoire from the Moldavian area of carols, howls, games of specific characters of the holiday: Irods, Stars, Luceferi, Goats, Bears, as well as the traditional dolls’ crate.

The “Gastronomy” section presented a variety of books with culinary dishes specific to the Moldavian area, respecting the religious calendar and highlighting the beauty and unmistakable taste of Moldovan cuisine.

The section “Specific Christmas Parties” featured a display of books and pictures of Iasi balls and parties at the manor houses.

We invite you to explore the full photo collection!

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