Written by: 
Mînzat Valeria

Easter Traditions in Romania

Easter is probably the biggest Christian holiday. Most Romanians celebrate the Orthodox Easter and, while from a religious point of view it signifies the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead, there are also many traditions and customs surrounding this holiday. If you want to celebrate Easter in Romanian style, you should definitely know about these ones!

Getting ready for Easter in Romania

Getting ready for this special holiday is a whole ritual in Romania. It all starts on Joia Mare, or Big Thursday, which is the Thursday before Easter, that is always on a Sunday day. On Joia Mare everyone should work around the house: cleaning, dyeing the eggs, baking Pasca (traditional cake made from leavened dough filled with cottage cheese) and preparing the lamb meat. Then, on Vinerea Mare, or Big Friday, one should not eat, drink or work. Saturday is also a day to prepare for the holiday, and the night from Saturday to Sunday every family would go together to church to bless the food they prepared for Easter, but also to receive the Holy Fire, which they’ll take in their house through a lightened candle, as to let it burn and bring peace for the year.

Dyeing the eggs

There are different traditions on dyeing the eggs and all of them are related to a legend that says that Mary went to Jesus when he was crucified on the cross and, in her great pain, she began to weep and placed a basket of eggs at Jesus' feet. Blood spilled onto the eggs, so they turned red. Every Romanian house has their own method of dyeing the eggs, and also decorating them. In the regions of Moldova and Bucovina for instance, the technique is very complex and eggs are decorated with very detailed traditional motifs. They are so special that there are even museums of painted eggs.

Egg knocking

Everyone looks forward to the custom of knocking and cracking the eggs. The meaning behind this is that when we crack the egg and thus break its shell, we are actually celebrating the moment when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Also, while doing so, but also the first thing in the morning, we say to each other: Hristos a Înviat, and respond: Cu Adevărat a Înviat, which means that we are acknowledging the resurrection of Jesus. This type of salute lasts for 40 days, until another important religious holiday, the Ascension Day, and then for another 10 days we greet each other with the phrases: Hristos s-a Înălțat and Cu Adevărat s-a Înălțat, acknowledging the bodily ascension of Jesus into heaven.

Good luck, money and health

There’s another tradition - on Easter morning, a red egg, water and a penny are placed in a clean pot, after which the members of the family wash their face and hands with this water. The motivation?.. They will be red in the face (signifying health) and they will have money all year. Also, the first thing that should be eaten on Easter is Pasca, only after that the consuming of other products is allowed.

In the end, the celebration of the Resurrection is an opportunity to gather the family around the table with traditional dishes, it is a reason for joy and optimism. Easter brings all the family members together, wherever they are, because this holiday holds a great importance and has a deep meaning.