Romanians and Their Much-Dreaded Fear of the “Curent”

There aren’t many things Romanians agree on. But there is one that 20 million people have believed, and continue to believe generation after generation, despite scarce medical evidence. It is called the curent (aka a draft) and it is the reason you can’t have two windows open in the same room - ever.

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Two windows viewed from outside, one is closed and another is open with white curtain caught on wall stock photo
What is this 'curent' that threatens Romanians, and why is it the most dreaded condition, despite little to no medical evidence of its existence? Photo: iStock.com / WoodyAlec

Heaven forbid you leave a Romanian person standing, even briefly, between two open windows or doors – or, worst case scenario, both – for you’ll soon have them call in sick. Ears, back, teeth, it all starts to ache. And it’s all because of this darn draft. What is this curent, and why is it the most dreaded condition, despite little to no medical evidence of its existence?

I dare you to say to a Romanian person there is no such thing as curent. Most likely, a heated argument is about to commence. How else would you explain the sudden pains one experiences after exposure to air flow?

In the Romanian dictionary, this curent (lit. tr flow) or curent de aer (lit. tr. air flow) is defined as the “displacement or movement of a mass of air from one place to another, caused by a difference in temperature.” Why is this movement of air blamed for almost every ache that one may experience in their lifetime? It’s still a mystery? You cannot see the draft but you can definitely feel it – in your bones, ears, eyes, any part of your body is subject to the effects of a wayward draft. Colloquially, it can be identified more easily as it is often accompanied by loud exclamations, and it usually comes along with firm door slamming and vigorous window closing.

An everyday struggle

The curent is, at its core, airflow, meaning it is everywhere. No place is exempt from the unwanted presence of a draft. And if you’re visiting Romania, be prepared never to leave a door open and always look around before opening a window, so that you make sure no draft is let in, or you shall bear the consequences, and not only from the airflow.

Romanian people are very serious about this highly-debated “disease,” so much so that we’d rather put up with absurd heat than risk catching the draft.

Should you do the aforementioned, you might get yelled at, even by random strangers. It doesn’t matter if it is 30C outside and the bus you’re riding is practically a moving sauna; you are not to touch those windows, unless you have a strange desire to find out what having a mass of people shout at you feels like.

I can assure you, based on experience, it’s not fun. But, based on experience too, catching a curent is no fun either. Do you see where I’m going with this? There is no safe option; you’re bound to suffer one way, either physically or verbally, because of the draft. So make your choice wisely.

Curent: between myth and reality

I dare you to say to a Romanian person there is no such thing as curent. Most likely, a heated argument is about to commence. And of course, while many people do not suffer as much because of this inconvenience, most people who would bet on their most prized possessions the existence, and bad effects, of the draft. How else would you explain the sudden pains one experiences after exposure to air flow?

There is a fine line between myth and reality, which many doctors have tried to explain for years. As we’ve mentioned before, the curent is basically draft of air. Therefore, prolonged exposure to different movements of airflow can intensify the pain of an already existing illness. So is the draft to blame for your toothache? Yes and no. Well, partly. The airflow did indeed increase the pain, making it unbearable, but instead of appealing to traditional methods to get rid of the curent, you should probably visit the dentist.

But why do that if you can blame the curent, right? After all, it is the cause of every ache you may ever experience. Or so the Romanians believe.

Naomi Gherman

Master student in Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations at Babeș-Bolyai University, eager to share more about our world's most fascinating stories and people. Romania-based reader, writer and content creator with a strong interest in journalism, foreign languages and politics.

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