The Opening Ceremony of the International Astronomy Olympiad included both formal moments, such officials’ opening speeches, and artistic manifestations – choreographies of elementary school children, special singing performances and traditional Romanian songs and dances. Nevertheless, the climax was the parade of the 21 national groups participating in this year’s edition of the Olympiad in Piatra-Neamț, at Petru Rares National College.
Our guests – lots’ representatives and officials – were warmly welcome as the Romanian custom says, ‘ with bread and salt’. According to historians, offering bread (at first wheat grain was offered) and salt was a sign of goodwill and acceptance towards any visitor who came to one’s home or country. Bread (wheat) symbolized the richness of the field, and salt was the real gold of antiquity being, for millennia, the most expensive trade product. And this tradition has been carefully preserved up to now, concentrating in itself an honest feeling of respect and appreciation for the guests.
Accompanied by children wearing the national folk costume, students of Sports High School in Piatra Neamț and volunteers, each of the groups marched in front of the public, among which there were not only students, parents and teachers from all over Neamț county, but also simple admirers of astronomy and top school performance. Our hosts were Mrs. Adina Diaconescu, an English teacher at Petru Rareș National College, and Mr. Valentin Florea, a well-known actor at the Youth Theatre in Piatra-Neamț.
We tried to cover a wide range of activities, slowly slipping along the thread of time, combining current, lively and interesting aspects with traditional ones in the history of our country. We listened to contemporary hits, such as the one sung by Voltaj band – “With all my heart” – a song about Romania and the Romanians, especially composed to represent our country at a European music competition, but also traditional songs, genuinely performed by students from our county.
Fun fact: The dance initiated by the volunteers, stuff and Romanian lot at The Polyvalent Hall during one of the stage performances is called HORA and it’s the traditional dance in this region.
Hora (plural: hore) is a traditional Romanian folk dance where the dancers hold each other’s hands and the circle spins, usually counterclockwise, as each participant follows a sequence of three steps forward and one step back. The dance is usually accompanied by musical instruments such as the cymbalom, accordion, violin, viola, double bass, saxophone, trumpet or the pan pipes.
We truly believe that by the end of the week, most of you will have already learned how to dance hora faultlessly!