If you’re planning to spend Easter in Romania, get ready for a one-of-a-kind celebration which blends in hundred-year-old traditions with delicious authentic, traditional food – all garnished with a generous dose of Romanian hospitality and overall feel-good attitude.
If you want to find out more about all that and what you can expect if traveling to Romania during this special time of the year, then we invite you to read on.
We’ve put together a detailed guide which will help you experience Easter like a local and make the most out of your time here. So let’s get to it!
Easter in Romania: Old Traditions
Around 86% of Romanians are of Orthodox confession and Easter (or the Resurrection) is one of the most important religious holidays in the country.
That’s because the holiday celebrates Jesus’ resurrection from death three days after he was executed by crucifixion, as narrated in the Christian bible. Romania’s Easter holiday follows the Orthodox Easter date, which is often different from the Easter date established by other Christian churches.
The date changes from year to year, but the holiday is always celebrated on a Sunday. In 2020, the official Romanian Easter date is April 19th.
Easter in Romania has a sacred quality, as it is firmly rooted in religion, with most of the associated traditions being of Orthodox origin.
The traditions surrounding Easter are pretty complex and held special meaning in the hearts of most Romanians. Here’s a roundup of some of the most significant ones:
Florii (Palm Sunday)
- One week before Easter, people with flower names are celebrated (hence the name of the holiday; the English equivalent of Florii is Flower Day). During this day, pussy willow branches are taken into the church to be blessed. Then, people put them in front of icons and above doors to ward off evil spirits and protect them all year long.
Painting Boiled eggs
- This takes place on the Thursday before Easter (also known as the Holy Thursday). The traditional color to dye the eggs with is red which symbolizes Jesus’ blood when he was crucified. However, nowadays, a wide array of colors and decorations are used. Yet, natural coloring methods, such as boiling the eggs in water with red onion skins or beetroot, are still being used, mostly in rural Romania.
Decorating the Eggs with Incredible Craftsmanship
- Romania is famous for its artists who hand-paint empty eggshells in different geometrical and floral motives, an art form which has been passed down from generation to generation. Another ancient local tradition (mainly from northern Bucovina) on Easter eggs involves adorning the eggs with beads to create intricate, colorful patterns, as seen below.
Attend Church on Easter Saturday
- Millions of Romanians put on festive clothes and attend the midnight service at the church. A few minutes after the clock strikes midnight, all the lights in the Church are turned off.
- At midnight, the priest comes out of the altar with a lit candle and “gives the light” to the whole congregation. Each member will pass the light to the next until everyone’s candles are lit. This represents the risen Christ, as a symbol of light (life) dismissing darkness (death). With candles in their hands, Christians then circle the church three times led by the priest.
Playing the Semantron
- The semantron is a large, heavy, fixed timber or metal block suspended by chains. The percussion instrument is used in liturgical service. On Easter Saturday, the semantron announces the Resurrection of Jesus and calls for Christians to gather for the service. In the video below, you can see monks at the Putna Monastery in Bucovina perform this ritual during Holy Week (the week leading to Easter Sunday).
Knocking Dyed Eggs Together End-to-End
- It is customary for people to knock eggs during Easter. While the two eggs are cracked together, one person says “Christ is risen” to which the other person responds with “Indeed is risen“. The person who manages to crack the other person’s egg on both ends is considered to be the winner.
These traditions are best preserved in rural Romania, although special Easter services are held at churches throughout the country, including Romanian’s biggest cities where impressive crowds of people gather to celebrate together.
The Best Easter Traditional Food, in an Eggshell
The Easter lent is the longest of all four main lent periods in Romania and lasts for forty days plus the week before Easter (also known as the Passion Week). During this time, people give up meat and dairy products almost entirely.
After fasting for so long, it’s no surprise most Romanian look forward to enjoying all the scrumptious food included on the Easter menu.
In many households from across the country, preparations for Easter start at least a couple of days before so there is enough time to cook all of the fantastic food.
Food is a big part of the holiday, with families and friends breaking bread together for Sunday lunch or dinner as a way to commemorate the revival of Christ.
The variety of traditional Easter food ensures there’s something for everybody to enjoy on the table. Here are just a few examples which are bound to open up your appetite:
- Dyed Eggs. You can’t have Easter without eating at least a couple of hard-boiled eggs. A pinch of salt is all you need to enjoy this long-lasting Easter tradition.
- Roast lamb steak. Usually served with spring roasted vegetable, such as carrots, green beans, potatoes and green peas.
- Drob. A lamb organs’ haggis with vegetables and boiled-eggs center.
- Traditional sponge cake (cozonac). A delicious sweet bread typically filled with walnuts and cocoa. Goes great with a glass of milk, but it’s delicious by itself, as well.
- Pasca: A special kind of pastry with a sweet cheese filling and sometimes raisins – perfect for dessert.
- Red wine. There’s nothing which accompanies lamb stake better than a chilled glass of red wine, especially if it’s produced locally by villagers or by one of the iconic wineries in Romania.
- Other foods many Romanians eat on Easter are the famous sarmale (minced meat in cabbage rolls) and boeuf salad (finely chopped beef or chicken mixed in with root vegetables, mayonnaise and pickles).
Where to Find It
Most restaurants are closed during the three days of Easter, but guesthouses and hotels will include traditional Easter food on their special holiday menu. Some Easter food, such as the cozonac, pasca and colored eggs, can be found in all the major supermarkets in Romanian during this time of the year.
A Few Surprising Facts About Easter in Romania
In addition to long-lasting traditions and delicious food, Easter in Romania also comes with a few somewhat bizarre customs.
Like the fact fires may be lit near churches or on hills for the Easter Vigil (the service which takes place after sundown on the night before Easter). This tradition you can witness in the countryside in regions, such as Bucovina, is supposed to help chase the darkness (evil) away as well and banish winter and welcome spring.
Another surprising fact about the Romanian Easter is that, in the past, boys visited unmarried girls in their community and doused them with water or perfume for good luck or to secure a quick marriage.
Just as unexpected is that, on the Friday before Easter, many people who adhere to Orthodox Christianity abstain from eating all day long. This is meant to ward off diseases throughout the year.
One more custom you will enjoy is witnessing villagers put on traditional clothing – some of which has been in their families for generations. This custom is mainly kept alive in the countryside and it’s for sure a sight to be seen!
Bonus: Top Destinations for a Traditional Easter in Romania
Come to Romania for Easter and you’ll get an opportunity to witness old traditions, learn more about the Romanian culture and try new food. But that’s not all.
An Easter visit here gives you the chance to see spectacular sights and visit some of the best attractions in the country.
Here are a few suggestions of popular Romanian destinations to consider:
- Bucovina. This stunning part of Romania is home to beautifully-painted old monasteries, such as Sucevita, Moldovita and Voronet. You’ll also get to see breathtaking natural sights alongside ancient monuments and experience the authentic rural life this region is famous for.
- Maramures. Picturesque villages, green rolling hills and fields full of wildflowers; these all paint the picture of a dream-like land which has the power to take you back in time. Discover some of the best attractions in Maramures by reading this article.
- Transilvania. Home to world-famous medieval attractions and stunning landscape, Transylvania is the perfect place to create new memories and experience the best Romanian has to offer.
Feel free to look them over and don’t hesitate to contact us at 40 735 525 710 for more details.
Happy Easter, Everyone!
No matter where the Romanian Easter finds you this year and how you choose to celebrate, we wish it brings you the greatest feelings of gratitude and joy.
First and foremost, Easter is a holiday to reflect on your life and appreciate everything you’ve got and all the exciting adventures you’ll get to live in the future.
We hope we’ll be a part of at least some of them!
For more travel tips and top recommendations, be sure to stay up to date with any new articles we post in our blog section.