The Aromanian people, also known as Vlachs or Armâńi, are a distinct ethnic group native to the Balkan Peninsula. They are scattered across modern-day Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Romania. The Aromanians have a rich and diverse history, which is deeply intertwined with their beliefs, mythology, and rituals. On this page, we will delve into the unique aspects of Aromanian culture, focusing on deities, mythological creatures, and the key practices that have defined this community for centuries.

Aromanian Beliefs and Mythology

The Aromanian people are predominantly Christian, specifically Eastern Orthodox. However, their mythology and beliefs are deeply rooted in pre-Christian traditions, which have been carried forward through oral history and folklore. Aromanian mythology is characterized by its syncretism, in which ancient pagan beliefs have merged with Christian elements over time. In this section, we will discuss the most prominent deities and mythological figures in Aromanian culture.

Deities and Heroes in Aromanian Mythology

The Aromanian pantheon features a blend of pre-Christian and Christian deities, with many of the original gods and goddesses being gradually replaced or assimilated into Christian figures. However, some ancient deities have persisted in Aromanian folklore:

  • Zamolxis: Originally a Thracian god, Zamolxis is considered the supreme deity in Aromanian mythology. He is associated with eternal life, wisdom, and divine communication. Zamolxis is often depicted as a hermit, living in the mountains, and is believed to have taught the Aromanians the art of agriculture and animal husbandry.


  • Bendis: A Thracian goddess of hunting and the moon, Bendis has retained her significance in Aromanian folklore. She is often portrayed as a fierce warrior, wielding a spear and accompanied by hunting dogs. Bendis is also associated with fertility, and her worship involved ceremonies held in forests and groves.

  • Ialomiţa: A river goddess, Ialomiţa represents the spirit of the rivers and streams that run through the Balkan region. She is often invoked to ensure a bountiful harvest and protect against floods. Ialomiţa is depicted as a beautiful woman with long hair, symbolizing the flowing waters.

In addition to these deities, the Aromanian people also celebrate several heroes and mythical figures. Some of the most notable include:

  • Mânăstirea: Mânăstirea is a legendary hero who is said to have fought against dragons and evil spirits to protect the Aromanian people. He is often depicted as a tall, strong warrior with a fiery sword and a shield adorned with the symbol of the cross.

  • Bălăuca: A mythical creature in Aromanian folklore, Bălăuca is a shapeshifting spirit that takes on various forms, including animals, humans, and even inanimate objects. Bălăuca is known to be mischievous and cunning, using her powers to deceive and manipulate people. She is also associated with the winter solstice, when her powers are believed to be at their peak.

Rituals and Practices

The Aromanian people have maintained numerous rituals and practices that reflect their syncretic beliefs. Among the most noteworthy are:

  • Kăluşari: The Kăluşari dance is a ritual performed by a group of male dancers who dress in colorful outfits and wear bells on their ankles. This dance is performed to drive away evil spirits and ensure prosperity for the community. The Kăluşari dancers often perform acrobatic feats and exhibit extraordinary physical abilities, which are believed to be a manifestation of divine power.

  • Paparuda: The Paparuda is a rain-making ritual practiced by the Aromanian people to ensure a bountiful harvest. A young girl, dressed in leaves and flowers, leads a procession through the village while singing and dancing. The villagers follow, splashing water on each other and the Paparuda. This ritual is believed to invoke the favor of Ialomiţa, the river goddess, who in turn brings rain to nourish the fields.

  • Martisor: Celebrated on the first of March, Martisor marks the beginning of spring and the renewal of life. Aromanians exchange red and white string bracelets as a symbol of good fortune and protection from evil spirits. The bracelet is worn for the entire month and then tied to a tree branch, where it is believed to transfer its protective powers to the wearer's household.

  • Capra: The Capra (goat) is a ritualistic dance performed during the winter solstice to chase away malevolent spirits and bring good luck for the upcoming year. The dance involves a person dressed in a goat costume, accompanied by musicians and other performers. The Capra leaps and dances, mimicking the movements of a real goat, while the accompanying performers sing songs that recount the exploits of Bălăuca, the shapeshifting spirit.