WOTD: Impodobi

xmastreewithredballsI actually learned this word this year, which just goes to show you that you should never stop learning words, even in your own native language (my latest acquisition in English is gallimaufry).

The verb I just learned recently is impodobi, which has a regular series of conjugations. The verb is a combination of im (to effect/add/put) and podoaba, meaning decorations, ornaments or accessories (from a Slavic root dealing with the appearance of things).

This verb can be used in a variety of circumstances but is most commonly used when referring to decorating or adding ornaments to a Christmas tree.

Note: in modern English most people say decorate a Christmas tree but in archaic usage it was referred to as trimming a Christmas tree.

Due to England’s strange history after Henry 8 and its various wars and struggles over religion, a Protestant German noble family came to rule that country (referred to as the Hanoverians) and in 1848 a newspaper in England published a drawing showing the royal family with a decorated Christmas tree.

This sparked a massive popular interest in the custom, which had previously been largely unknown outside of Germany and from there it spread to America as well. Previous to that, just as in most homes in Romania today, the preferred custom in America and England was to bring some bits of evergreen into the house, whether a branch from a fir tree, holly, mistletoe or other green, living plants as a prophylactic against winter.

As you saw yesterday with my little short video, whether cross-imported from American/British culture or mixed with lingering German/Saxon heritage, in Romania most cities have a large, decorated Christmas tree in the public square (or many of them). I’ve seen a few decorated trees inside of public buildings too but it is however still rare to find one inside of people’s homes.

Romanians have a variety of words for “tree” but the most common one for the kind of tree that gets decorated for Christmas is brad, which would be translated in English as fir/juniper, an evergreen tree that grows in mountainous areas, exactly the same kind of tree that gets decorated in America, Britain and Germany and dozens of other countries at this time of the year.

And now you know!

7 thoughts on “WOTD: Impodobi

  1. Thats why i say he’s a spy…sometime things dont make sense…there are some seriously and obviously errors that can be seen as a hidden code message…sounds stupid, but hey, the guy knows several languages and works for the government :))


  2. “but it is however still rare to find one inside of people’s homes”, this could be news to me. In my 22 years I grew up In Targu-Mures, Marosvasarhely, Neumarkt am Mieresch, I honestly don’t remember a home, without a Christmas Tree, Pom de Craciun, Karacsony Fa, Weihnachtsbaum.


  3. Sorry, but you missed the mark by a country mile on several points. In a rush to pump out another post? No time for research?


  4. Andu is right. The (silver) fir, not the juniper, is extremely common in people’s houses during this time of year. It seems that this tradition comes indeed from the Germans, but not in recent history though. It was probably imported during the germanic invasions in the first millennia AC and it found fertile ground as the locals used to worship the fir tree as the god of death. Romanians still decorate their weddings and funerals with fir branches (symbolizing the acceptance of death).

    Another interesting fact is that Mos Craciun was not, until recent times, the happy old fellow that brought toys. He was one of the mean old gods with a frozen beard thart brought cold and snow. The Santa Claus every kid loves was celebrated yesterday.


  5. Sam, the Christmas tree is actually quite common in people’s houses too.. And they usually keep it in the house from a few days before Christmas until the first few days of January.


  6. yes now we know u just call the christmas tree a ”tree” in america. and that we imported that from english and america.afterall england is abundant in junipers unlike (romania) and very religious indeed. way before the cucuteni culture and sf andrei actually. awhhhh just move on with agenda.


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