Happy Easter everybody!
As one of the most important times of the year and holidays of a religious nature, it is perhaps no surprise that Easter has many traditions associated with it - some old, some new. For me, one of the most interesting and fascinating aspects of going abroad or on Erasmus is exploring these types of traditions, as they can really connect you with the local culture.
Today, we'll take a look at some Easter traditions in Romania. We've asked a myriad of our local volunteers to submit traditions and practicises that they've participated in. You may have also noticed that Easter takes place on a later date than it does in much of western Europe. This is because Romania is primarily Orthodox, rather than Catholic, and so follows the Orthodox calendar.
Here below we have listed some of the traditions our volunteers chose to submit:
- Special Greetings: On Easter day, instead of the usual Romanian greetings, people greet each other with "Hristos a înviat" (Christ has risen) - with the response being "Adeverat c-a înviat" - (It's true he has risen).
- Painted eggs: As with a number of other countries, painting or decorating eggs is one of the most popular traditions here in Romania. They are usually painted red to symbolize the blood of Jesus, however in recent times people often opt for a more colourful palette. Traditionaly, eggs were painted using a mixture of onion skins and vinegar with boiling water in which the raw eggs were dipped so that their shells would turn a dark red color. For additional decoration, leaves of various plants could be placed on the eggs and secured using thin stockings before being painted. Some people also use lard to add shine to the eggshells. This method is still used to this day, however people may use special paint as well as stickers found in supermarkets to decorate the Easter eggs.
- Taking "Paște" - On Easter there is a special service at midnight held to celebrate resurrection, held at the first hour of the Easter Sunday. Attendees recieve bread dipped in white wine, called "Paște" or "Paști" - to take home and serve for the following week, as well as singing hyms and songs. The tradition is for the oldest family member to serve the bread to others, by saying the greeting (Hristos a înviat) which we mentioned before. Paște directly translates to Easter in English. This tradition is one of the most symbolic ones from the perspective of the Orthodox religion, as the bread is meant to signify the body and the wine the blood of Christ. At this midnight service is also something called "Recieving the Holy Light"; attendees bring a big candle which is lit with fire recieved from the priest, being passed among people from candle to candle. It's believed that the light comes from the fire at the Old City of Jerusalem, which is transported by plane to Orthodox countries.
- "The wetting" - Also known as spraying women with water or perfume, is a tradition specific to Transylvania, as well as Miercurea Ciuc. On the second day of Easter, boys carry perfume with them and spray the girls on their chest or wrists. It is believed that this custom is meant to bring the girls good luck, fertility, and happiness. The boys also must ask for permission from the elder of the house (usually the father) to spray the girls. In the past, men would sit in a cart decorated with fir boughs, and then would proceed to enter each yard and spray girls and women with a clean bucket of water while singing various poems. Now, perfumes are used. Girls can also give in exchange painted eggs, palinka (ofcourse), and cake.
- Wearing new clothing - When visiting relatives on Easter Sunday, it is advised to wear new clothes and shoes. As Easter celebrates the resurrection, wearing new clothing can be symbolic as a renewing of the soul. For this reason, many children in Romania recieve presents in the form of clothing on Easter, which are said to be brought by the Easter Bunny.
As you can see, the Romanian holiday season is rich with traditions and culture. We hope you enjoy this holiday season and can experience some of these during your time in Transylvania!