Being all humans, we mostly like and do the same things really, but much of the beauty in our world resides precisely in what makes us each unique. The places where we belong, the old traditions that can often seem ridiculous, the habits that we forgot to keep and all those things that society inhibits, define us, whether we like it or not. And in all this there is no greater shame than to deny our origins.
Romania is one of those countries with a richness of culture, where by some miracle, traditions are still preserved and where people pride themselves in being descendants of great antiquity, inheritors of long since nobility. And inheritors of lesser things too, simple things.
Romanian Pasca, Feature Image Wikipedia
It’s easy to realize that just like other Christian countries around the world, Easter is celebrated with the same fervor in Romania as elsewhere, but there are still certain traditions and unique rituals which make it different than from inside other nations.
Dominated by the Eastern Orthodox Church, Romania celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after crucifixion, similarly to the rest of the world, but uniquely in the small details. The focus in Romania is on emotion and faith, and although each region in Romania is ruled by its own traditions and customs, all Romanians will arrange this great feast by painting of eggs, preparing the traditional lamb, renewing the wardrobe and attending church, all be it in Romanian fashion .
The Easter season begins a week before the main celebration with Lazarus’ Saturday when all women should bake pie. The day is marked by several legends of which the most prominent one says that Lazarus was a little boy craving for pies. His mother didn’t have time to bake him a pie and so, on a Saturday, the child died. Seeing these, the grieving mother asked God not to forgive the woman who doesn’t bake pie on Lazarus’ Saturday. Dark though be it, this legend/superstition ends in family enjoyment, nonetheless.
Then Palm Day, also known as the Flowers Sunday, is typically celebrated by gathering the whole family to a picnic, usually somewhere outside the city, in a rural area surrounded by greenery and fresh air or by visiting the relatives in the country side. Flower Sunday is also the day when all the people with flower-like names are celebrated and believe me, there are plenty in Romania.
The week before Easter, called The Passion Week is meant to prepare the faithful people for Easter by purifying both their body and their soul. All Christians should abstain from bodily sins and no one is allowed to eat animal products. While women do general cleaning, men deal with the rest of the household activities during this time in order to make the house look flawless on Easter Day.
“Oua incondeiate”, Feature Image Wikipedia
Great Thursday, or the Black Thursday, is the day when most Romanian women paint the eggs and bake Pasca. These two authentic Romanian traditions have existed for eons, being part of Romanian culture. It’s almost impossible to translate the term “incodeierea oualor” into any language other than Romanian, but it refers to the art of painting the eggs carefully in order to achieve true bit of art. The procedure requires a lot of talent and patience and is especially known in Bucovina where the tradition and art is passed down from mother to daughter, from a generation to another.
The Friday before Easter is called the Great Friday or the Friday of sufferings as it represents the day when Jesus was crucified. Tradition says that on this particular day all Christians should go to the church to confess their sins to the priest there.
Great Friday is followed by a quiet Saturday when all the women ensure that all the preparations have been made, and when everybody goes to the church at midnight to attend the Resurrection service, leading into Easter Day, the most important holiday on the Romanian calendar.
Romanian Orthodox Church, Feature Image Wikipedia
On Easter, first thing in the morning, Romanians eat “paste”- a small piece of bread dipped in wine and blessed by the priest. Lunch, the most important meal of the Easter Day, is an opportunity to gather the whole family and loved ones in order to celebrate together this hallowed day by talking, relaxing, knocking eggs, enjoying the delicious food and of courser, the traditional red wine.
Easter symbolizes the sacrifice of Jesus Christ everywhere, an opportunity to awaken the religious side of each of us, an opportunity to better ourselves, to become Christlike. And for you to learn just how much joy this holiday truly brings in Romania, take the opportunity to visit the country at Easter, and stay out at midnight on Easter day, to see rivers of candlelight, as the Romanian faithful carry the light of God to their homes.