Easter is one of the most important Christian holidays which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The date for Easter shifts every year within the Gregorian Calendar, and the dates of Catholic and Orthodox Easter align just in rare instances. In 2018 Catholics celebrated Easter on April 1 while Orthodox Christians will celebrate it on April 8. Easter has accumulated a great many traditions, some of which derive from folk customs and differ from country to country according to their ethnic and cultural origins.
Here we will tell you about Easter celebration in Romania.
A week before Easter people in Romania celebrate Palm Sunday which was initially dedicated to the Roman goddess Flora.It commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.On this day people sanctify willow branches, which symbolizes palm fronds.Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week which ends on Holy Saturday before Easter.
Maundy/Great Thursday, the fifth day of the Holy Week, commemorates the moment when Jesus Christ washed the feet of the Apostles. Washing of feet is a traditional custom often celebrated in many Christian churches on this day.Good Friday or Black Friday, the sixth day of the Holy Week, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. In this day mourning Romanians abstain from all food and drink the entire day.
It’s a must for Romanian people to have a clean house and prepare ritual foods before Easter. This is why the cleaning starts on Great Thursday. It’s a good thing to have a new piece of clothing on Easter day, so girls and young wives sew new shirts for themselves and for their parents, brothers, husbands and children.
Many Romanians observe Lent fast which starts six weeks before Easter. Many people eat no meat and abstain from things like tobacco and alcohol. While not everyone in the country follows this fast, most restaurants will offer items that fit the fasting diet.
Egg dyeing is one of the most important Romanian Easter traditions. The painted eggs are always on the table during the holiday, and kids can hardly wait to participate in the egg tapping competitions. It is believed that people who knock eggs on the first day of Easter will see each other after death and that the person whose eggs are unbroken will enjoy the longest life. Usually, the Easter eggs are painted red and represent the blood shed by Jesus Christ at his crucifixion, but they can also be blue, yellow, or green.
But more the tradition of decorating eggs with complicated traditional patternsspecific which vary from one region to another is more common in Romania. All the elements of the pattern have some meaning. For example, a vertical line means life, a double line means eternity, a line with rectangular symbols means knowledge, etc.Special instruments, such as very thin and round sticks,are used for eggsdecorating.
On Easter night, Romanian people go to their local church to light a candle and bring it into their home. That flame symbolizes the Resurrection of Christ and the triumph of good over evil.
On the first day of Easter, children and adults wash their face and hands with fresh water, in which they put a red egg and basil. It is said that those who follow this tradition will be beautiful and healthyforever.
Some regions (Bucovina, Transylvania) have tradition called “the wetting”. On Monday morning boys take a bucket of water and go to the houses of unmarried girls. If they found them sleeping the boys throw water on them. As it is believed that these girls will marry soon, they reward the boys by giving them the most beautiful decorated eggs and ‘pasca’ or cake. In some places, boys catch girls when they go out from the house and take them to a fountain or river, where they wet them, even throwing them in the water.
In Bucovina, there is a tradition of burning “wake-ups” on Easter night when fires are burning on the hills. The villagers are gathering around them andtelling stories from the life of Jesus and the boys jump over the fire to remove evil spirits.
In the Sibiu region people adorn a small symbolical tree or a bush with painted eggs that can be placed in a vase and kept as house decoration, similar to Christmas tree.
The main dish of Easter celebration is lamb meat, which is served together with side dishes such as potatoes or prepared in traditional dishes such as drob. A variety of Easter bread and cakesshould be on the table. A delicious bread known in Romania as ‘pască’can be made with cheese, cream, raisins, or even chocolate and cocoa. It is a special Easter cake of a round shape (reminding little Jesus’ diapers) or rectangular shape(the shape of His grave).
The Good People’s Easter is celebrated a week after Easter, on Monday. According to Romanian beliefs, the Good People are the ancient’s spirits, who live between the two worlds. They are not aware of the day when Easter is celebrated until they see remains of the painted eggs in the water about eight days later. In gratitude to the dead people, packages containing red painted eggs and pies are placed on graves and candles are lighted on this date.
The article is based on the information provided by Romanian Embassy in Baku