April 4, 2010 , Posted by byu at 1:48 AM
Although Romania does not have a national religion, Greek-Orthodoxism is widespread (87%), making Orthodox Easter one of the most important holidays.
Easter is considered an extremely important holiday in Romania, celebrating Jesus Christ's Resurrection three days after his crucifixion. It is a celebration of tradition and church going, preceded by the Holy Week (The Passion of the Christ).
Orthodox Holy Week Rituals
Great Thursday is also named Black Thursday and it marks the beginning of the Passion of Christ.
Tradition says that on this particular day the doors of heaven and hell open and that the loved ones who passed away come back to celebrate Easter with their families. This is also the time when the Easter eggs are being painted in different colors. Housework is absolutely forbidden on Black Thursday.
Great Friday is a day of fasting and remembering the terrible sufferings of Jesus Christ (Passion Friday). Most people go to church to confess their sins to the priest.
Tradition says that bread should not be baked and trees should not be planted on this day. The house should be very clean and all the food ready for Easter day.
Easter Food and Traditions
Easter eggs are usually painted on Great Thursday.
Initially, the only color was red, to symbolize the blood of Jesus, but now all colors are used, with different meanings.
In rural areas, people paint different images of Christ, angels or a cross on their Easter eggs or use plant imprints; Easter egg painting is an art that is widely recognized in Romania.
Easter cake (Pasca) is thetraditional cake that is usually baked on Saturday, Easter Eve. It is round, with a cross-shaped middle braid that represents the crucifixion of Christ. It is made made of cheese, egg yolk and raisins. Some people place coins inside the cake for good luck.
The Easter lamb, steaks and meat pies are traditional dishes. Together with the Easter eggs and the cake, the meat is placed on the dinner table on Saturday evening, before midnight.
At midnight, everybody goes to church to attend the Ressurection service (Invierea Domnului).
The priest lights his candle first, after which all the people light their own candles from the first one with the "light of Jesus's life". They take these candles at home and give the "light" to the members of the family that did not attend the service.
Everybody has dinner after the midnight service, with the lit candles on the table. The candles are kept for the entire year, as they are supposed to protect the house and people's health. The tradition of knocking the eggs must be respected: two people hold eggs in their hands and they break the other person's egg saying "Jesus is Alive" (Hristos a Inviat). The person that has their egg broken is considered weaker and must give their egg to the "winner."
On Monday and Tuesday people visit their relatives and bring lamb, Easter cake and painted eggs for lunch or dinner to celebrate the Resurrection. For the next 40 days, people greet each other with "Christ is Alive" instead of the common greetings.
Easter is a celebration for the soul, it is a period of spiritual insight and improving oneself. It teaches us to be good, kind and to respect everyone and everything that surrounds us. The sacrifice of Jesus Christs is the symbol of pure love and hope.