A Bad Habit that Smells like Burned Rubber

One day in March this year, while passing in my car through the village of Domnesti, Ilfov County (not far from Bucharest), I saw a couple of groups (mostly young people) celebrating something. Lots of noise, music, sunflower seeds and shouting, but these were not the only ways of celebrating. The central element of this improvised feast was a burning rubber tire! Thus, nearly 15 houses (just on the street that I passed) had in front of them a group of people smoking themselves around a burning car tire! If some are bothered by cigarette smoke, these young folks were perfectly fine with the smell of burning rubber.

If you never had the opportunity to “experience” the smell of burned rubber, I cannot find the words to describe how horrible it is. It’s like you feel your lungs turning black! Even after closing all the windows of the car, the smell lingered for a long time after I passed the street of hell. When I arrived home, I started to investigate this irresponsible habit.

After searching on Google about this mysterious thing, I found only a couple of websites from the Republic of Moldova, which informed me that in some areas of the country, on the eve of Christ’s Resurrection, there is a tradition of burning tires. According to http://social.moldova.org, the traditional aspect of this ritual, known as “Denii” involved, in the past, a message of purification through the use of ritual pyres made of wood and plant scraps.

This is the comment of a mayor from a village in the Republic of Moldova:

Each year, on the eve of Easter, we are faced with a serious problem that impacts us in many ways – the ritual of « Denii ». In our community, there is a new fad, which involves people gathering used tires and, on the Eve of Easter, these car tires are set alight and rolled down the hills towards the river Nistru. Dried grass, shrubs and trees are also burned because of this. For several days after the event, the air remains polluted from smoke and the smell of burning rubber. And this is the best case scenario, because such foolish acts can have serious repercussions. We try to combat this dangerous habit but, so far, we haven’t been able to eliminate it completely. After discussing this issue with my colleagues, I understand that the problem is widespread. This is why I believe that the press should write about the tradition of burning pyres on Easter Eve, how this habit fits in our religious tradition and, more importantly, how these actions violate the law and who is responsible for the unpleasant outcomes of such acts.          

Mihai Gotornicean, mayor of Lalova

The whole article (where the origins and initial meaning of this tradition are explained, including the fact that burning tires are a misfortunate adaptation of old rites) can be found here: http://www.cuvintul.md/article/3094/


Tire burning. Source: www.cuvintul,md

Despite all the information that I found, which refers to a habit typical in Moldova, I wonder what is the situation in Romania, because tire burning is practiced even close to Bucharest. And what are the reasons? Have you ever witnessed such an event?


Tire burning. Source: ecomagazin.ro

According to the specialists, by setting tires alight in the open air, 23 dangerous chemicals are released into the atmosphere (8 of these are known to cause cancer). Among them we can find carbon monoxide, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, dioxins, furans, heavy metals, benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Thus, breathing the black smoke is really bad for human health and can cause respiratory and neurologic diseases. One should not play recklessly with fire and smoke!



Article written by Ioana Stoicescu and translated by Mihail Mitoșeriu

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