Interview with H.E. Mrs. Brândușa Predescu, Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Bulgaria

Horitul – the singing of Hore in the Transylvanian Plain
Making small breads and wooden models in Slovenia
Interview with H.E. Mrs. Brândușa Predescu
Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Bulgaria

 Days of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Romania, May 31 – June 13, 2021


1. Romania has a lot of elements inscribed on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO. What explains the active role of your country in the field of ICH safeguarding?

In 2021, we mark 65 years since Romania’s accession to UNESCO and this long and fruitful cooperation reflects our attachment to multilateralism and, implicitly, to the values and principles of the United Nations. Indeed, Romania has, by itself or shared with other countries, seven elements inscribed on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO: „Căluşul”/“Căluş ritual”, “Doina”, “Ceramica Horezu”/“Craftsmanship of Horezu ceramics”, “Jocul fecioresc”/”Lad’s dances in Romania”, “Colindatul de ceată bărbătească”/”Men’s group Colindat, Christmas-time ritual”, “Scoarţa”/”Traditional wall-carpet craftsmanship” and “Marţisorul”/“Cultural Practices associated to the 1st of March”.

Since ratifying the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Romania has been very active and taken all the necessary steps to implement ICH policies at the national level. We created a specialized Commission in this field and a general inventory of ICH representative elements has been published. Archives and specialized museums where information about ICH elements is held are constantly enriched. Romania also collaborates with other countries in the area, in order to introduce ICH elements that Romania has in common with these countries on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO.

2. What is your favorite Bulgarian ICH element / tradition?

My favourite Bulgarian ICH element/tradition is „martenitsa” (in Romanian language, „mărțișor”). As you know, in 2017, the tradition of „Mărţişor” was inscribed by UNESCO in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as “Cultural Practices associated to the 1st of March”. The inclusion in the list took place following a candidacy submitted by Romania, the Republic of Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldova and the Republic of North Macedonia, as the four countries share this beautiful and special tradition, with some small differences in form, but in the same spirit of celebrating spring and nature’s rebirth.
I am also very happy that my mandate here as ambassador started on the 1st of March, on a lovely day of Bulgarian spring.

3. How could culture strengthen the international relationship between Romania and Bulgaria?

Nowadays, more than ever before, culture plays an essential role in international relations. This is a result of the human nature constantly seeking for contact with culture, as a means to understand each other. Cultural exchanges also offer the chance to value diversity and to get acquainted with different enriching perspectives. Romania and Bulgaria are two neighbouring countries, which share excellent bilateral relations and many common historical and cultural elements – the abovementioned tradition of “Mărţişor”/“Martenitsa” and “Hora”/”Horo” folk dance, to give just two examples.

The great European river, the Danube, and the Black Sea represent, for both Bulgarians and Romanians, a space partially defining our cultural identity and reflected in our rich cultural heritage. But our proximity goes beyond simple geographical considerations. History has brought us together, in many moments, through similar attempts or common aspirations. This past has contributed to a greater degree of empathy among our peoples. Thus, cultural exchanges, organizing common events, mutual knowledge and enhancing interpersonal relations are easily achieved because of this shared history and culture.

4. According to you, what is the next Romanian element, to be inscribed in UNESCO?

As you know, Romania submitted, together with the Republic of Moldova, the multinational File “The Art of the Traditional Blouse with Embroidery on the Shoulder – an Element of Cultural Identity in Romania and the Republic of Moldova” for inscribing the item in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The file was drafted with the participation of national experts from Romania and the Republic of Moldova, its elaboration being coordinated by the Romanian Ministry of Culture. The working group of the Romanian Ministry of Culture included experts, scholars, researchers and museographers. The nomination file will be evaluated during the 17th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of November – December 2022 and we are looking forward to seeing this special and wonderful element also introduced in the prestigious UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

5. What policies in the South-East European region are needed in order to popularize living heritage and its values among the young people?

According to examples of good practice at the international level, but also as a result of the general public interest in the living heritage/ICH, in Romania, there are different ways to stimulate the interest of the young generation in this field. For instance, there are optional courses in traditional culture in grades I – XII as well as university study programs in the field of ethnology. Contexts for educating the young with regard to the significance of the ICH are offered also by various platforms, both nationally and internationally, where the participation of Romanian youngsters is encouraged. I refer in particular to the national crafts contest organized at the largest ethnographic museum in Romania, Astra in Sibiu, to workshops in national art museums, but also to European programs and projects where Romanian schools actively participate and where intercultural information is exchanged with young people from other countries.

I also believe that better use of social media is highly recommendable in order to make the concept of living heritage more understandable and attractive to young people. Visuals always work wonderfully well for raising awareness and understanding of a specific topic. Especially with young people this form of communication and education proves to be very successful.