Easter is the most important religious holiday in the entire calendar, and I want to share some memories and some traditions regarding the Orthodox Easter. Some are still being kept, while others are more likely only remembered by the elders of the communities. Ever wondered what are the Romanian Easter traditions?
The main religion in Romania is Orthodox, as of entire Eastern Europe (Thank you Russia). But as years passed by, many different traditions formed, and each was shaped by the different social environments and people.
I was raised and forced by society to go to church before each Easter and Christmas to confess my sins. Probably they thought it would make me repent. Anyway, one thing they got right was I got stuck with the traditions. In my memories at least. Here are the 5 Romanian Easter Traditions:
For an unknown reason for me, Easter is all about eggs. Probably one of the most important Romanian Easter tradition. Painting them red (on the Thursday before), sharing them with your family and neighbours, cracking them in a sort of competition of who has the “strongest” egg.
After I googled the religious Romanian websites a bit, it turns out that, back in the day, the eggs were considered a symbol of creation, fruitfulness and life in general. It is related to Spring and the process of the revival of nature. I just read (on a site that claims to be the largest Orthodox community worldwide) that Chinese people used to dye eggs 2000 years before Christ.
As a disclaimer, and in the defence of all those Romanians who overeat, and to whom the gastric medicines tv commercials are addressed, before Easter the bible suggests you should feast for 6 weeks.
A major part of the Romanian Easter traditions talks about food. A lot. There should be food, specific kinds. The centre product of the Easter cuisine is the lamb. Poor animal. They use every part of this tender animal (The same animal they were hugging and kissing for New Years, to bring them good luck).
Romanian use lamb in many creative ways. They make Lamb soup, Lamb tripe (Drob), steak.
For when I used to eat meat, I don’t think I have ever eaten lamb meat except for Easter. I always thought it was cruel what we were doing. So I don’t eat meat anymore.
And there is the Pasca (an Easter specific cheese pie) that is sold everywhere, and everyone makes it at home. Women make it, they bring to church to get it hallowed, and they share it with others. Sometimes it’s like a competition of who’s pie was the greatest looking or which tasted better.
I almost forgot about the sweet bread (Cozonac). It’s a sweet bread, with cacao and walnuts. It is my favourite Romanian food. Romanians cook it for Christmas and Easter.
My grandmother used to make a huge stock of these, to have it through the month or so. She would serve it to me as a desert. But I always wanted more. Once I sneaked into the cozonac room. And I ate a bit. Later I did it again. Not long after, an entire cozonac was gone (it is quite big). My grandma later discovered the reason I was not eating her food anymore. Oops.
3. Going to church to get “holy light”
If I would believe the Church, the light is coming from Jerusalem and it is holy. They say it comes by plane and they distribute it in the entire country really fast. Yeah, right. At about midnight every possible church has the holy light.
From my most recent experiences, as my mom asked me to go with her to church to get this miraculous light, most people go just for that. Very few remain for the rest of the sermon. Bad timeline Church!
4. Wearing new clothes for easter
Another very well known tradition is that you have to get new clothes for Easter. Especially children would get new clothes.
This is again related to the renewal symbol of Easter, and you (as a good Christian who goes to church) would have to wear new clothes for this extraordinary service.
5. Visiting your family
The week before Easter is an exhausting week for all women, who are supposed to clean up the house and cook all the above-mentioned foods. Even the days are set for when you cook each thing. For example, the eggs have to be dyed on Thursday and on Friday you bake the pie (Pasca).
On Saturday evening you get all dressed up and you go to church, in the middle of the night. No worries, everyone is roaming the streets, going to or getting back from the church with the holy light. After this, you go home and you have the most awaited feast. With your family.
On the Easter Sunday, you are supposed to spend it at home with your family. I always found this boring. Or you go visit your family if you are far away from home. Hence, the saying “I go home for Easter”. On the 2nd day, You go and visit the extended family. Your godfathers, grandmas, dogs, stuff like that. You eat some more at their place.
The takeaway from these Romanian Easter traditions
Easter is a time to spend with family, eating the traditional meal (I am still hoping I will find some veggie substitutes for them) and relax.
Expect to see lots of eggs, everywhere. Chocolate companies love this tradition, and everywhere you will find chocolate Easter eggs to buy.
Most importantly, be kind, be forgiving and sympathetic towards others. AS the tradition says, Christ has forgiven us and that’s an example for all of us to take. I have no idea about this Christ guy, but I know being nice always pays back.
If you enjoyed reading this, share it, pin it and tell people about our tradition. Please do comment with any other tradition, I would love to hear about it.