I had a wonderful day yesterday. The daylight hours were spent walking the hills and valleys around Nemsa ( that's Romania if you have not been paying attention). It was cold but the sun shone and there were still some flowers and butterflies around, so it was a wonderfully uplifting experience.
But oh dear. During the course of the afternoon one of the locals came galloping up ( literally) to our little group . The Mayor's best friend's daughter was getting married that evening and Alin and I were invited. I carefully explained I had nothing to wear that was suitable, but nothing would do but we were to be there for 6pm.
True to form we were about an hour and a half late. But then so was everyone else. About 200 of us sat down to an excellent meal and the serious drinking started.
About 10pm - I suppose as an effort on these occassions to bring a semblance of order and sobriety - we were served soup - think chicken noodle soup.
I'm told that Romanian weddings can go on all night and most of the next day. On last night's evidence I can well believe it. At one point the bride is kidnapped and she has to be ransomed. They have a very good system here which is that although the initial costs are borne by the parents of bride AND groom, everyone gives an envelope during the course of the evening. Each couple ( ordinary guests) gives about GBP60. The best man about GBP 100. The net result is that there is usually a reasonable amount left over for the happy couple.
The whole atmosphere was crackling with testosterone on the part of the young men there. Clearly Romania works on the Italian principle that the men stick together and get drunk and the women stick together and dance. Very occasionally, one of the sharply dressed young men would formally ask the girl if his choice to dance with him as opposed to her friends. This led to much nudging and pointing and nodding of older heads - the poor couple were clearly already married, having children and in their dotage before a few minutes conversation were up. Their parentage and lineage was discussed. Where they a suitable match? Would the children be well behaved?
On that point, there were large numbers of younger children there, all behaving impeccably. They operated on the same principle as their elders - the boys talked to each other and the girls discussed the boys.
And overall, the noise of the disco was so high that when we finally left around 1am neither Alin nor I could do anything other than croak.
Some time ago I had given one of my copper bracelets ( for rheumatism) to Madame Elena, who runs the local pensione. It had clearly worked for her and she had extolled it's virtue to her friend the Mayor's wife. Sigh. So naturally nothing would do but that SHE would have one as well, so as of now I am minus two bracelets. In future I shall bring a supply with me.
I finally got to bed about 2:30 having drunk copious quantities of water.
But my abiding memory was of a very old lady with a wonderful wrinkled face and careworn hands. She sat at the end of our table. During the course of the evening, people were coming up to her at regular intervals. Finally the bride and groom came to her. They both kissed her on each cheek, and then she placed her hands on their heads and blessed them.
It transpired she was the oldest female person present. By tradition she blesses the union, and gives the happy couple a little homily. The respect shown to her was marvellous to see.
We could learn about that in our own society.