Celebrate Easter in an Eastern-European country like Romania?
It happens to sound like a pun, but it might actually turn out to be an intriguing idea for an offbeat spring holiday.
Given that Romanians have a rich Orthodox heritage, you can imagine how much of their culture is intertwined with this religious celebration.
While they don’t greatly differ from other Slavic peoples when it comes to Easter festivities, Romanians know how to make this time of the year unforgettable.
In fact, it’s a great time to meet the well-known Romanian warmth and hospitality. Interested? Then let’s see what Romanian Easter is all about.
1. There’s a Whole Culture Dedicated to the Painted Eggs
In a nutshell, here’s the thing: Romanians tap eggs during Easter days.
But not any kind of eggs. These are painted or decorated hard-boiled eggs.
Asking yourself why?
It’s all about the symbols.
Going back in time, you can learn that this practice originates in pre-Christianity. But it was adopted by Christian believers as well due to its symbolic valences.
First, the eggs are dyed red to emulate the sacrifices of Jesus, then people pick one to break in honor of Jesus defeating death by his resurrection.
This scenario happens during the 3 Easter days Romanians celebrate. It’s a particularly fun custom for kids, who tap their eggs and strive to have the most ‘unbreakable’ one.
But there’s more: Romanians made an art out of egg decoration and turned it into a fine handcrafting skill.
This phenomenon is encountered mainly in Bucovina – the Eastern part of the country – where there are artisans perpetuating it to this day.
You’ll have the occasion to admire their craft at Easter fairs or even in painted eggs museums, the most famous one being at Vama. The exhibits display intricate embroidery made with wax or other materials all around the world.
2. Romanians Celebrate Easter with Pomp and Circumstance
Romanians don’t spare energy and resources when it comes to Easter.
Starting from the overall house cleanup to Easter meals shopping and Easter cooking, they put a lot of soul into the preparations.
In terms of food, here’s what to expect:
- lamb dishes (including haggis – a sort of pudding made out of lamb’s pluck)
- pasca – cottage cheese pastry
- cozonac – the traditional Romanian sweet bread with various fillings
These are prepared for the large family gatherings, but they can sure find a place for unexpected visitors as well.
3. Some Traditions Are Still Alive and Well
Even though they are waning rapidly, Easter traditions can be encountered among rural communities.
There, people use to believe that:
- If an Easter egg doesn’t crack a whole year through, this ensures sacred protection for the family
- On Good Friday, a tradition requires that people pass under a table three times to replicate the passions of Christ
- In Bucovina, fires are lit on hilltops to celebrate the arrival of spring
- In Transylvania, young boys sprinkle perfume onto unmarried girls. It used to be a form of courtship.
4. Full Display of Romanian Spirituality
For Romania – a heavily Christian-Orthodox country – Easter is a time of great joy and fraternization.
To the Orthodox community, Easter is more important than Christmas, since it marks the greatest miracle performed by Jesus.
That also translates into an increased preoccupation for the others – you’ll feel a cheerful vibe if you choose to celebrate Easter in our country.
If you’re really interested in the South-Eastern Orthodox spirituality, you can add a bit more to your journey.
You can travel to the painted monasteries of Moldova and spend the Easter midnight surrounded by the spectacular Byzantine walls and authentic Orthodox chants.
Now that you know more of how Romanians celebrate Easter, you’ll know what to expect if you happen to travel there during April 14th – 18th this year.
One note: on Monday, April 17th – the second day of Easter-, most local shops, institutions and touristic sites suspend their activity.
That said, we recommend that you stay tuned to our blog activity for more info on Romanian-related stuff travelers should learn of.