In December after I got back from my trip to Belgium I stayed the night with my host family from training. They invited me back for my host moms birthday on January 6, which is the day before the Russian Orthodox Christmas. And since I had spent “American”(this is how most of the PC volunteers in Moldova label it) Christmas with my host family in Riscani, I decided to spend the Orthodox Christmas with my host family in Ciorescu.
I headed down on Friday afternoon and when I arrived I was surprised that there was not a huge meal being prepared. Instead it was rather small and my host family’s good friends came over for dinner also. They kept talking about the sauna that they were going to on Sunday, I was invited and changed my plans around so that I could attend. It took me a while, but I realized the birthday celebration was being put on hold for a few days.
The next morning was the Orthodox Christmas, my host moms brother and his family were there. We had some mammaliga (very traditional Moldovan dish made from corn meal and served with meat, cheese and sour cream) and toasted to Christmas with champagne. The rest of the day was spent relaxing until around 6 when we went to different house and celebrated with more family.
On Sunday morning I got up and started helping my host mom prepare the masa (meal) for her birthday celebration. At around 1:30 they started loading all the food and drinks into the car, and my host sister left to set everything up. Right before 3 we all left for the sauna, in total there were about 15 people, including one other volunteer who lived in Ciorescu over the summer. The sauna was complete with a pool table, dining room area, shower and small pool filled with very cold water. My family had rented the sauna for 5 hours, and people switched back and fourth between being in the sauna and eating and drinking. In February I was invited back to Ciorescu to celebrate a birthday and visit another sauna in town.