Centuries-Old Easter Traditions in a Beautiful European Country, Romania
Easter is one of the most important celebrations in Romania, as it commemorates the moment Jesus Christ resurrection. Easter is Romania follows the Orthodox calendar and this year it is celebrated on Sunday, April 20.
The celebration is preceded by numerous rituals, preparations and traditions, all taken very seriously as Romanians are very superstitious.
These traditions vary according to each region in the country, but each one has its beauty and mysticism. It is a must for Romanians to have a clean house and traditional food ready on Easter. Romanians also fast for 48 days before Easter, a ritual of purification for the body and soul, pray and go to church.
It is said that when Virgin Mary came to cry for Jesus Christ who was crucified, she placed a basket of eggs under the cross. Jesus blood flowed on the eggs and since then Romanians paint the eggs in this color. If in the old times the eggs were all painted in red, now various colors are used.
The most beautiful eggs are made in the region called Bucovina, where the eggs are decorated with beautiful hand-made patterns made with special instruments and with colored melted beeswax. The process requires much skill, steady hands and patience, and people in Bucovina are considered undisputed artists.
Tradition says that on the Saturday before Easter you have to put an egg on a garbage dump. The egg is covered with various drawings which you made each day beginning with the middle of the Fast. If you see a dog trying to take that egg do not let it, as it will return for the egg and grant you one wish.
Romanians bake the traditional ‘pasca’ (Easter cake with cheese) and ‘cozonac’ (sweet bread) which are taken to the church, together with painted eggs, to be sanctified. Another traditional food is ‘drob’ (haggis from lamb organs with vegetables) and lamb steak. It is also said that touching a white lamb before Easter will bring good luck. In some regions, the remains of the sacrificed lamb should be buried under a pear or apple tree to bring health to the family.
On the night before Easter people dress in new clothes and go to church. The church bells ring all night and at midnight, after the ceremony, everyone lights a candle from the priest’s candle, symbolizing the return of Jesus from the dead and sing a special religious song saying “Christ is risen from the dead / Trampling over death with death / And to those in the grave / Giving life!”
Seeing hundreds of candles in the night is a breath-taking moment. Those who can but do not want to go to church on Easter night will get ill. The candles will be put out only when people get home and will be kept for times of danger as they have protective function. Before putting the out the candle a cross made of smoke will be made above the entrance door to protect the house from evil.
At home, before eating the delicious food prepared days ago, people first knock the colored eggs. Two persons each hold an egg and the one who knocks the other’s egg says Christ is Risen! while the other answers Indeed He is risen! Tradition says that the entire family has to eat from the first cracked egg and that if the egg you have chosen has two yolks you will get married.
The following morning Romanians wash themselves in a bowl with cold water, with red eggs and silver and golden coins in it (to be as beautiful and healthy as the eggs and prosperous).
The Watering Monday is celebrated especially in Transylvania. The day after Easter men visit families with women and girls and sprinkle them with perfume or perfumed water for luck and happiness. The girls and women give in exchange a painted egg.
St. George Day – April 23
St. George is the protector of reborn nature and herds. That is why people put willow branches at the doors and windows, to be protected from evil spirits. This is a day filled with traditions, most of them related to marriage. Young girls believe that if they look into a bucket with water during St George night they might see the one they will marry. They also make wreaths from special herbs taken from the woods which will be used to make love charms or to be used to heal illnesses.
Tradition says that early in the morning boys awake girls by pouring a bucket of water on their head and striking them about the legs with long thin twigs or switches made from willow. Or the boys wait for the girls to return from the church and pour buckets of water on them as a symbol of their great love for them.
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