Romania has a strange relationship with tradition. On one hand, there’s a strong desire, especially among young people and those who grew up in the closing days of Romania’s communist regime, to cast off the past and move forward. To have new things and money to buy them with that younever could when ration cards were the main source of resources. Or to rebel against the patriarchial, repressive, and often intensely restrictive culture your grandparents.

That’s the legacy of most of the post-Soviet nations. Yanked first from Orthodox traditionalism to Stalinist rule, then plunged into the modern, capitalist, liberally-minded world of the West. It’s whiplash on a grand scale; compounding instability leading to a profound sense of directionlessness. And few of the former communist states have been able to avoid it.

But on the other hand, Romania is still a deeply religious country, and not just among its older generations. I’ve met plenty of young, progressively-minded people who at least believe in God, if not outright practice Christianity. And there’s a deep respect for tradition that infuses daily life, mixing freely with superstition and older practices that have been passed down since before Romania was Christianized. Artists like Subcarpats are fusing hip-hop with traditional music, and there’s been a recent revival in traditional Romanian cooking, albeit with a modern twist.

Slowly, it seems, Romanian culture is moving towards a synergy with its past. I for one am excited to see what comes out of it.

The last picture is a vigil and small prayer site where locals would come to light candles in memory of the dead. We found it while hiking in the Carpathian mountains.