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Culture & Identity of Moldova

Introduction

Moldovan Culture - Village transportation
Village transportation

The way of life in Moldova is based around simplicity, but that doesn't imply a lack of awareness of the world around them. Over half the population is rural and the country is very densely populated as most families live on small farms. This makes for close-knit communities, often centered around a church. In many villages and towns the same families have lived in the area for generations and it seems everyone knows everyone else and nearly everyone is related to some degree. Also in these areas, cars are rare as horse-drawn carts are more common, but as few people ever leave their towns and villages there is little need for a car (although if they had cars perhaps they would leave more often).

For most people in the country, the day begins and ends with the sun as they spend most of their time in the fields. This often extends to include Saturdays and, during the summers, Sunday afternoons as well. When they are at home with their families, which often includes a couple generations under the same roof, life is about family, food, and religion.

For most rural ethnic Moldovans Sundays are focused on attending service at the Moldovan Orthodox church, meeting friends, and having a large meal with their family afterwards. These meals usually consist of their home-grown foods from the farm and wine is also an important aspect of dining in groups. The wine is often homemade as many Moldovans have a small plot for grapes so every family wine is different depending on the grape varietal grown and the family recipe, which often includes some sugar to sweeten it a bit.

For the urbanites in Moldova, a number that is slowly growing, life revolves around work and only secondly around family, but jobs are scarce and high paying jobs are even rarer. The GDP per capita is only $3,400, putting the people behind both Iraq and India in the category, but the people in the cities generally make more than those in the country.

The cities are often filled with ethnic Moldovans taking a leap of faith to earn more money or gain financial security. It is also home to nearly every university student and most of the population that has a higher education. Because of the risk and expense of the move, cities have many more single people and the young adult population is heavily favored in cities. Although today many people are second or third generation city-dwellers, in the past this wasn't the case and many of the people taking this leap today are young and stay due to financial security and due to starting families.

The cities in Transnistria are similar to cities elsewhere in Moldova, but the population tends to be Russian and Ukrainian heavy. For these Slavs religion is not an important aspect of their culture, if it takes any role at all. The jobs in these cities are also more industrial-based and most of the people, especially the Russians, moved to these cities specifically to take these jobs. It is clear that in cities like Tiraspol the culture is much more Russian than it is Moldovan and few people immigrated to these cities from the country.

Sadly, partially because of a lack of economic opportunities, there has been a growing mass emigration, especially among the educated youth who are seeking out better paying jobs elsewhere. Moldova is very much aware of their situation and the opportunities in the countries around them, which has led to many people leaving the country today, leading to an aging population.

Identity

On one extreme, people in Moldova identify as Romanian and seek union with Romania; others see Moldovan as a unique ethnicity and cling to that. On the other side, Ukrainians see themselves as such, Russians as Russians, and Gagauz and Gagauz (a Turkish minority in the south). Still others see themselves as Transnistrians, a fictional country lying east of the Nistru River which has maintained independence (although not recognized) since the early 1990s. This division and confusion on who they are has caused all this hard ache.

Best Places to See Life in Action:
-Chisinau is the pulse of the country and a great place to see the daily life in an urban setting
-Be sure to make a trip to the countryside to see how most of the population lives
-All of Transnistria offers a slightly different lifestyle due to the population being primarily ethnic Russian or Ukrainian; in the country life is very similar, but in the cities, such as Tiraspol, life reflects that of Russian more than it does Moldova

Learn More about Moldova's Daily Life:
-Read Playing the Moldovan at Tennis by Tony Hawks; it goes into the sports scene, but is, more than anything, a cultural comedy that gives you insight into the people, their culture, and daily life (Buy Now)

Learn More about Moldova's Culture & Identity:
-www.moldova.md

This page was last updated: March, 2013