The gap that divides the conscience of the Romanian people nowadays is even more painfully evident on the occasion of national holidays, when a brilliant tradition is confronted with an increasingly miserable reality. Year 2012 had an exponential debut, with this regard. January 15, the birthday of our national poet Mihai Eminescu was rightfully consecrated as the Day of National Culture. But, as most culture and art institutions of the country, starting with the Romanian Academy, organised commemorative events, the center of Bucharest was ravaged by the violence of mindless protesters, the odious so-called ‘ultras’ that kept in check even the gendarmes.
And the series of social protests, which became peaceful meanwhile, continues each evening in Bucharest and throughout the country. The only common denominator of these rallies is the absence of any precise programme, as they target almost everything.
Protesters equally accuse the president of the country, the government, all political parties that successively held the power, the gendarmerie and the police. They also target the problems plaguing the health and education systems, the labour market, and the unemployment rate among higher education graduates high above the European average. Other protests are against central and local administrations, which increased taxes at unbearable levels, but the prime target is the generalised corruption. There is a reason why one of the slogans shouted in the street has become the symbol of Romanian politics: “Please excuse us for not producing as much as you steal!”
After January 15, the next national holiday – January 24 – makes no exception. A recent meeting between power and opposition, in view of drafting a parliamentary programme dedicated to the 153rd anniversary of the Union between Moldavia and Walachia, ended with a fiasco. Why? Because each side only thinks about itself. National solidarity is shattered today, which explains the Romanian politicians’ lack of interest for historic events, sometimes even for those of European significance. If someone made a poll among politicians about the preliminaries and concrete configuration of the Unity that was proclaimed on 24th January 1859, the results would be really sad. But not at all… surprising, as many people believe that politicians are interested neither by the past, nor by the future of the country, but only by their own chances to get wealthy at all cost.
What a painful contradiction between years 1859 and 2012! On January 24, 1859, the Motherland – symbol of the complete national unity of Romanians – was a dream turned reality, so after Moldavia and Walachia got united, Romanians channeled their dreams and aspirations on Transylvania, the third province of the ancient Dacia that was demanding its sacred right to unite with the Motherland. Thus, January 24, 1859 is remembered as a day of European importance, also due to Romanians’ heroic resistance against the bloody, expansionistic and barbaric actions of the three empires around us: Ottoman, Austrian-Hungarian and Czarist.
In no other region of Europe, such a small people, subject to the most terrible territorial violations and pitilessly exploited by three colonial empires, has so successfully succeeded to preserve its national existence as the Romanians did. This success was achieved both by an armed struggle and by a diplomatic action capable of turning the three empires against each other. This is why 24th January 1859 is also a celebration of Justice taking precedence over Force in international relations.
This is precisely what explains the fact that, in the traditional conscience of Romanians, the day of 24 January 1859 has been also perceived as a sign of the future, of the Great Unity that would come on the 1st of December 1918. We still keep this day in our national soul as the most sacred ideal, thinking back at a time when the country was harassed and hit by the last remains of the three empires. And even though, between 1866 and 1990, the National Day of Romania was set under the pressure of the moment, the exponential aura will shine forever around the dates of January 24 and December 1, known as ‘the Small Union’ and ‘the Great Union.’ As sources of piety, reflection and hope, these truly national days were – and still are – seen today as proper answers to noisy, arrogant, artificial and politically inspired events, and also to the brute violence of the so-called ‘ultras.’
Both on January 24 and December 1, our national soul vibrates with the memory of Cuza, Kogalniceanu, Costache Negri, Bratianu, of all our illustrious predecessors, and not with the arrogant, egotistic and ephemeral statements of politicians. Today, in 2012, our national soul can also be found in the icon that became the symbol of endless rallies that are shaking the country: the old protester, carrying in his arms his grandson wrapped in the Romanian flag, both of them shouting: “You, damn profiteers, we want our country back!”