The Christmas holiday has always brought us the joy of being with loved ones. Both the big and the small were looking forward to the preparations based on pork. What was specific to the cities of Transylvania and especially to Cluj, was that the butcher was the one who had the most important role in preparing the goodies.
Despite all the changes brought about by the development of trade and the diversification of food products, at the beginning of the 20th century, at Christmas, the people of Cluj preferred all the traditional dishes. Restrictions on raising pigs in the city came only in the 1960s, and if he didn’t keep a pig, each family would buy one before the holidays.
The butchers of the city were in great search then, because they prepared all the sausages. Their taste depended very much on the skill of the butcher, from the way he slaughtered the pig, to the spices he used in preparing the assortments, each having personal recipes, which is why many families cut the pig according to the program of the preferred butcher.
On Christmas Eve, the whole family sat down to the table, serving the pork preparations: caltabo, blood, tuna, boiled bacon with boar, chickpeas, raw sausage and ice cream, along with plenty of pickles.
As a basic preparation, turkey roast was used because there was the superstition that the bird gives back with its legs, leaving the problems behind to maintain peace and quiet. At New Year’s Eve, the meat of the bird is avoided, preferring the roast of the pork, because the pig runs before, so that the new year has begun with force and determination.
As a dessert, walnuts, popcorn or cheese were prepared to be served in the family, while for carolers, it was the custom to prepare donuts. Until the morning the family was awake waiting for the carolers, being a gesture of impoliteness for them to find you sleeping.
There were even bolder families who, in addition to traditional recipes, served exotic fruit sauces or in addition to cozonac or kürtőskalács added more elaborate desserts, but the joy at Christmas had a common denominator: simplicity.
In ordinary families in Cluj, it was the custom for a poor person to be invited to the Christmas table to have a meal that he could not afford. It was the supreme gesture of kindness, inviting people from the same social category, the meals and gifts were rewarded by similar invitations, but calling on a poor man who could not return the gift was the disinterested sign of true Christian love.