What does Easter symbolize?
Easter in Romania is one of the main religious holidays in the country. Romania is a lively and colorful place, accompanied by lots of celebrations and traditions. As it may occur to you, Easter is also celebrated in other European countries. What do they actually celebrate? Easter is a Christian festivity that honors the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter always falls on a Sunday, no matter the month. Since Romania is mainly a Christian orthodox country, religious heritages play a crucial part in society.
Apart from its spiritual meaning, Easter in Romania symbolizes peace, enlightenment as well as joy and hope. This is a great chance to spend time with loved ones and focus on your inner self. During this period, Romanians do not fail to have some fun. Therefore, you will find a lot of traditions and old practices in all the parts of the country.
If you decide to visit Romania during Easter, you should definitely check out this article. It will give you a wider perspective about everything you need to know about this holy period.
How is Easter celebrated in Romania?
As we mentioned above, here comes the best part! Easter is an old celebration, therefore its traditions are well embedded in the culture. You must know that before Easter there is a period of preparations.
These preparations begin with the Easter Lent. This is undoubtedly the toughest period in the year. Why? People need to fast for six weeks, which represents the 40-day and 40-night Lent held by Jesus Christ before the preaching of the gospel. During this period, Romanians do not eat meat, milk, eggs, or any other product coming from an animal. Even so, on some days they are allowed to eat fish.
Moving forward, the week before Easter is called the Holy Week. This is the time when Christians go to church to confess and repent for their sins. Moreover, all the Christian churches hold wonderful Christian services for everyone.
The day before Easter, people paint red eggs. The red color illustrates the drops of blood that Jesus Christ spilled on His crucifixion day. Perhaps the most meaningful event during this holiday is Resurrection Night. This is the night when people gather to lighten their candles around the church. By doing so, they honor the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the following three days, Christians knock eggs. The one who starts to knock says “Jesus has Resurrected”, the reply being “Indeed He has Resurrected”. Once the eggs are cracked, the one with the cracked egg gives it to the winner. They do this so that „they do not end up eating the rotten egg in hell”.
Since Romania is a relatively big country in Europe, it is split into different regions. As you might have guessed, each region comes with its own traditions. Let’s give them a look!
Easter Traditions in Muntenia
Muntenia represents the territory located in the South part of Romania. As the name suggests in Romanian, it is the region below the mountains (munte). Even though the majority of traditions faded away in this part, they still have their charm. During Holy Week, the wives and the mothers prepare the well-known red eggs and the traditional food. Every house needs to have Pasca, which makes an allusion to Jesus Christ’s body. Additionally, Pasca is surrounded by braiding that creates the image of the sun around it. This symbolizes the vitality of people and nature. The same rituals are present in Bucovina, the Northern part, as well.
Throughout the church service on Thursday before Easter, boys and girls bring a rope. What do they do with it? With each gospel, they make a nod and a wish. Thus, by the end of the gospel, the rope will have 12 nods. Then the rope is put under their pillow on the night between Thursday and Friday so that the youngsters dream about their future half. It is also said that a wish came true, the corresponding nod will loosen by itself.
During Resurrection Night, the Christians who do not make it to the gospel have a special ritual. They need to wash their face the next day in the water together with a red egg, a normal one, and a coin. This practice is meant to purify them.
If you are in Bucharest, do not miss the chance to visit some places from Muntenia! There are one-day trips to Mogosoaia Palace, which is only one hour away from Bucharest. We guarantee you it will be impressive!
Easter Traditions in Oltenia
Oltenia, the Southeast part, is a place filled with old Easter customs. The first thing you need to know is that every house in Oltenia needs to be cleaned before Easter. This is a sign of purity in front of God. In terms of food, one can eat painted eggs, Pasca, cozonac as well as lamb meat. An interesting fact to know is that in Oltenia men are the ones responsible for painting the eggs.
Another thing you should know is that on Sunday morning when people come back from church with their lit candles, they need to take some grass out from the garden and step on it before they enter the house.
Perhaps the most distinct tradition in Oltenia is splashing the girls with water on the second day of Easter. It may sound amusing, but this is a ritual performed for a girl’s beauty and fertility. Traditions in Oltenia are similar to the ones in Maramures, the region „at the top of the map”.
Easter Traditions in Transylvania
Transylvania, the middle of the country, has mostly the same traditions as the previously mentioned regions. What distinguishes Transylvania from any other place in Saturday night’s customs. During this time, boys decorate small trees with colorful ornaments. After the twilight, they sneak into the girl’s gardens and tie up the decorated tree to their doors. The next day, the girls pick their favorite tree and reward the boys with traditional food. It is also said that the boy that made the most beautiful tree will be chosen by the girl to marry.
Transylvania has a great variety of places that you must definitely visit! Brasov, Sibiu, and Sighisoara are some serene places that you should travel to. All of them can be done in just a one-day trip from Bucharest.
Easter Traditions in Moldova
Last, but not least is Moldova. Compared to the other regions in Romania, Moldova is a place that strictly follows the Easter traditions. As a matter of fact, all the customs are transmitted from generation to generation.
You should probably know by now what is Easter’s traditional cuisine. Moldova does not make any exception when it comes to food. The famous lamb meat, painted eggs, Pasca, and cozonac are always present on all Moldovian tables.
What differentiates Moldova from other counties though? The Resurrection night. Apart from going to the church gospel to lighten their candles, people also mark this moment with shootings. They do so in order to scare the evil spirits.
What is more, during this night, girls wash the bell of the church with water. They keep this water because they wash their faces with it the next morning. In this way, they will be admired by all the boys. The old tradition says that the boy who falls in love with one of the girls needs to give her a red egg.
Furthermore, each Christian has a basket prepared according to the rituals of the old ancestors. The basket is covered with a towel decorated with specific traditional patterns. Inside it, people put poppy seed, salt, sugar, flour, onion, and garlic. These are considered to be the symbols of happiness. After that the poppy seed is thrown into the water, the sugar is given to the animals and the salt is kept over the year. Lastly, the onion, as well as garlic, are kept to protect the grains against insects.
Are you still not convinced yet? Easter in Romania gives you a great chance to learn more about Romanian traditions and culture.