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Wertsman Overview Romania is a country slightly smaller than the state of Oregon, measuring 91, square miles , square kilometers. Located in southeastern Europe, it is bounded by the Ukraine and Slovakia to the north, Bulgaria to the south, Serbia to the southwest, Moldavia and the Black Sea to the east, and Hungary to the west. Although the majority of Romanian Americans immigrated from Romania, several thousand families also came from countries bordering or adjacent to Romania, such as Moldova and Albania.

Romania has a population of slightly over 23 million people. Eighty-eight percent are of Romanian ethnic origin while the rest consist of various ethnic minorities, including Hungarians, Germans, Serbians, Bulgarians, Gypsies, and Armenians.

Eighty percent of the population nominally belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church, and approximately ten percent are Catholics of the Byzantine Rite. Although Roman occupation of Dacia ended in A.

The ancestors of the modern Romanian people managed to preserve their Latin heritage despite Gothic, Slavic, Greek, Hungarian, and Turkish conquests, and the Romanian language has survived as a member of the Romance languages group. Romania has been subjected to numerous occupations by foreign powers since the Middle Ages.

In the thirteenth century, the Romanian principalities Moldavia and Wallachia became vassal states of the Ottoman Empire. Bukovina, Transylvania, and Banat were incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the s. Czarist Russia occupied Bessarabia in In Moldavia and Wallachia became unified through the auspices of the Paris Peace Conference, and Romania became a national state.

In , Romania was proclaimed a kingdom and Carol I was installed as its first monarch. Romania regained Transylvania, Banat, Bukovina and other territories after the war. In , Carol II was named General Ion Antonescu premier of Romania, who then forced the monarch to renounce his throne in favor of his son, Michael I —.

In the last year of the war, however, Romania switched its alliance to the Soviets and, after the war ended, Antonescu was executed. In national elections held in , members of the Communist party assumed many high-level positions in the new government, and King Michael I was forced to abdicate his throne. Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej of the Romanian Communist party served as premier and later as chief of state In the post-Communist years, various changes have occurred, including a free press, free elections, and a multi-party electorate bringing to power a democratic government President Emil Constantinescu, —.

Romania also petitioned to become a member of NATO, and its candidacy will be considered in the year In the late eighteenth century, a Transylvanian priest named Samuel Damian immigrated to America for scientific reasons. Damian conducted various experiments with electricity and even caught the attention of Benjamin Franklin they met and had a conversation in Latin. After living in South Carolina for a few years, Damian left for Jamaica and disappeared from historical record.

In , a group of Romanians came to California during the Gold Rush but, being unsuccessful, migrated to Mexico. Romanians continued to immigrate to America during this period and some distinguished themselves in the Union Army during the Civil War. George Pomutz joined the Fifteenth Volunteer Regiment of Iowa and fought at such battlefields as Shiloh, Corinth, and Vicksburg, and was later promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. They came from various regions, including Wallachia and Moldavia.

The majority of these immigrants—particularly those from Transylvania and Banat—were unskilled laborers who left their native regions because of economic depression and forced assimilation, a policy practiced by Hungarian rulers. They were attracted to the economic stability of the United States, which promised better wages and improved working conditions.

Many did not plan to establish permanent residency in America, intending instead to save enough money to return to Romania and purchase land. Consequently, tens of thousands of Romanian immigrants who achieved this goal left the United States within a few years, and by the Romanian American population was approximately 85, Between and , the number of Romanians entering the United States declined for several reasons.

Following World War I, Transylvania, Bukovina, Bessarabia, and other regions under foreign rule officially became part of Romania, thus arresting emigration for a time.

In addition, the U. Immigration Act of established a quota system which allowed only persons per year to immigrate from Romania. The Great Depression added to the decline of new Romanian immigrants to the United States; immigration figures reached their lowest level at the beginning of World War II. Romanians who did enter the country during this period, however, included students, professionals, and others who later made notable contributions to American society. When the Communists assumed control of the country in they imposed many political, economic, and social restrictions on the Romanian people.

Refugees who had left the country as a result of persecutions, arrests, or fear of being mistreated and exiles who were already abroad and chose not to return to Romania were admitted into the United States through the auspices of the Displaced Persons Act of and other legislation passed to help absorb the flood of refugees and other immigrants from postwar Europe.

Because of the abrupt and dramatic nature of their departure, the refugees and exiles estimated at about 30, received special moral and financial support from various Romanian organizations—religious and secular—in America. These immigrants infused an important contingent of professionals, including doctors, lawyers, writers, and engineers into the Romanian American community, and were also more active politically. They established new organizations and churches, and fought against Communist rule in their homeland.

After the Revolution of December , which brought an end to Communism in Romania, thousands of new immigrants of all ages came to the United States, and new arrivals legal and illegal continue to enter the country. The elimination of Communist travel restrictions, the desire of thousands of people to be reunited with their American relatives and friends, and the precarious economic conditions in the new Romania were powerful incentives to come to America for a new start in life.

Among the newcomers were professionals, former political prisoners, and others who were disenchanted with the new leadership in Romania. There were also many Romanian tourists who decided to remain in America.

Many of these immigrants spoke English and adjusted relatively well, even if they took lower-paying jobs than those to which their credentials or experience entitled them. However, others found neither employment nor understood the job hunting process, and returned to Romania.

Those who chose to return to Europe settled in Germany, France, or Italy. According to the U. Census, there were approximately , people of Romanian ancestry living in the United States.

Because early Romanian immigrants were either peasants or laborers, they settled in the major industrial centers of the East and Midwest and took unskilled jobs in factories. A substantial number of Romanians also settled in Florida and California.

Living near the factories where they worked, first-generation Romanian Americans established communities which often consisted of extended families or of those who had migrated from the same region in Romania. Second- and third-generation Romanian Americans, having achieved financial security and social status, gradually moved out of the old neighborhoods, settling either in suburban areas or in larger cities, or relocating to another state.

Consequently, there are few Romanian American communities left that preserve the social fabric of the first-generation neighborhoods.

Sandwiched between Romania and the Ukraine, it occupies an area of 13, square miles 33, square kilometers. The population of 4. There are also smaller groups of Poles, Belorusans, Germans and Gypsies. The official language of Moldova is Romanian with a Moldavian dialect , and the second language is Russian. During the Middle Ages, Bessarabia was an integral part of the Romanian principality of Moldavia, but it later became a tributary to the Ottoman Empire.

In , as a result of the Romanian population majority vote, Bessarabia was reunited with Romania, but in , the Soviet Union, in a pact with Nazi Germany, gained control of the land.

After the fall of Communism, in the country became independent, and took the name of the Republic of Moldova. It underwent various changes free elections, a multi-party system of government, economic reforms before reaching an understanding in with separatist movements in two regions, Dnestr, and Gagauzia.

There was also a movement for reunification with Romania, but the majority of the population opted for independence. Immigrants from Moldova who came to America before World War II, as well as those who arrived later about 5, in the s consider themselves members of the Romanian American community, using the same language, worshiping in the same Eastern Orthodox churches and preserving the same heritage. They are also fully integrated in Romanian American organizations and support the reunification of their land of origin with Romania.

In addition, they have lived in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria for over 2, years. Their history goes back to the first and second centuries A. This photograph was taken on December 28, It is estimated that there are about , to , Macedo-Romanians in the above mentioned countries.

They know the Romanian language, but they also use their own dialect consisting of many archaisms, characteristic regional expressions and foreign influences. The first wave of immigration took place at the beginning of the twentieth century, while a second wave was recorded after World War II, and family reunifications continue to this day. Macedo-Romanians are characterized by their hard work, the high esteem in which they keep their families and the value they place on education.

They adjusted well to American life, and preserved their cultural heritage via their own organizations, ranging from Perivolea in New York, to the Congress of Romanian-Macedonian Culture presided by Prof. Cunia, in Fayetteville, New York.

Although the younger generation of Macedo-Romanians are proud of their heritage, they display strong trends of assimilation, and tend to use English more than the language of their ancestors. Acculturation and Assimilation While researching data for her doctoral dissertation on Romanian Americans in , Christine Galitzi Avghi, herself a Romanian, observed that "Romanians in the United States constitute a picturesque, sturdy group of newly made Americans of whom altogether too little is known" Christine Galitzi Aughi, A Study of Assimilation among the Romanians in the United States [New York: Columbia University Press, ]; reprinted in Indeed, in the past, insufficient knowledge of Romanian ethnic characteristics generated various misconceptions in America.

Other immigration "Inever really knew how much my ethnic background meant to me until the Romanian Revolution a few years ago. I was never ashamed of my background, I just never boldly stated it. The Story of American Immigration , Barbara Kaye Greenleaf stereotyped Romanians as wearing sheepskin coats "during all seasons" even though such coats are worn by farmers and shepherds only in the winter.

Romanians who had originally come from Transylvania with ethnic Hungarians Transylvania was under Hungarian rule before World War I were also greatly misunderstood.

Such misconceptions did not deter Romanian ethnic pride, however, which reached its peak during World War II. Today, as other groups are reaffirming their cultural past, Romanian Americans are doing the same. For example, on certain days some farmers would not cut anything with shears so that wolves will not injure their sheep. Tuesdays were considered unlucky days to start a journey or to initiate important business.

A plague could be averted by burning a shirt which has been spun, woven, and sewn in less than 24 hours. Girls would not fill their pitchers with water from a well without breathing upon it first and pouring some of it on the ground a libation to the nymph of the well. Before serving wine, drops were poured on the floor to honor the souls of the dead.

A woman who did not want children would be tortured in hell. A black cat crossing in front of a pedestrian would bring bad luck. An owl seen on the roof of a house, in a courtyard, or in a tree was a sign of forthcoming bad luck, including death in the family.

Such superstitions were gradually forgotten as Romanian immigrants became acculturated into American society. Herbs and vegetables are used in abundance, and one-dish meals occupy an important place in the repertoire of recipes. These dishes are very nourishing, inexpensive, and easy to prepare. Romanian Americans enjoy cooking, often modifying old country recipes or creating new dishes.


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