EASTER TRADITIONS in ROMANIA

Easter is the most important celebration of the Romanian people and it is preceded by numerous preparations and rituals. Flowers Saturday (Lazarus· Saturday) Palm Day (Flowers Day) Great Thursday Great Friday Easter (in 2008: April 27rd) The Small Fountain Good People·s Easter Flowers Saturday (Lazarus· Saturday) Lazarus, the character whose name was given to this day can have various meanings. He is thought to be either the brother of Martha and Mary, who was resurrected by Jesus, prior to His entrance in Jerusalem, either Lazarus the poor, either ÅLazaricaµ (a Romanian diminutive of Lazarus), who died craving for pies.

According to a legend originating in Bucovina, once upon a time there were two brothers, one possessing great wealth, while the other, named Lazarus, could barely make enough money for living. The latter, in spite of his financial misery, had also contacted a strange disease, consisting of odious blisters that covered his entire body. The other people began to avoid him; even his wife left him. Meanwhile, the rich brother was thriving and he decided to marry, throwing a lavish party. Lazarus, however, was not invited. Desperate and starved, poor Lazarus went to his brother·s gate, imploring him for a place at his table. The rich man called him a beggar, denying the family relationship. Upon hearing this dreadful thing, Lazarus sat down and burst into tears. At this time the dogs noticed his misery and started to bring him food remains, fallen under the tables from the wedding party. The brother didn·t allow this to continue, commanding the servants to tie down the dogs. After the party had ended, when the guests were leaving, the fiddlers noticed Lazarus and, despite they knew he couldn·t reward their effort, started singing, reminding him of the times when he had a better financial status. Hearing the songs, the rich man went outside and began making fun of the fiddlers, telling them that all they would receive will be, at best, some blisters. When the fiddlers finished singing, Lazarus indeed rewarded them this way, saying that this was the only thing in his possession. Embarrassed, the singers accepted his gift. On their way, they noticed the blisters had transformed into golden coins. Cheerful, the fiddlers mentioned to Lazarus· wife about what had happened. Angry, she went to her former husband, criticizing him and announcing her wedding to another man. Hearing all these things, Lazarus advised her to pray before she would leave her house, facing the four directions, each one at a time. However, in her wedding day, the woman forgot about the advice and left with her new husband, in his carriage pulled by six horses. But she reminded somewhere along the road and started to pray. While she was praying, she saw the horse and the carriage disappearing and noticed that she had arrived in strange lands. She realized then that her new husband was the Devil. Even if she had only traveled for some minutes, she needed three years for returning to her village. Meanwhile, Lazarus was dying. He asked his rich brother to help him, but this replied that he had no fear of death or God. Thus Lazarus died and the angels took him to heaven.

doling them to the poor ones. Palm Day (Flowers Day) A week before the Easter. seeing that he doesn·t come home. The so-called bride. The legend goes that. The girls go to the houses of the village and they form a circle in the front of one of the windows. are given eggs or money by the ones to whom they sang. but Lazarus remembered all the evil deeds he had been subjected to on earth and refused even to throw some water on his brother. so that the sun will rise above them. This was initially dedicated to the Roman goddess Flora. In Walachia there is a custom called ´Lazarelµ or ´Lazaricaµ. The willow plays a very important role in the rituals.When the rich man had to die. It is also said that on this day the dead are awaiting at the heaven gates. On her journey she arrived at a river and asked a willow to help her cross it. In Maramures region a small wheat bread is baked. For the same reason. when the willows. but then it was celebrated in the memory of the Jesus· entrance to Jerusalem. as it is believed that the ones who taste it will meet again on the other realm. The legend goes that he was a young man who had asked his mother to bake him bread. Meanwhile. it is divided between the family members. Lazarus was a little boy who was craving for pies. bathed him in milk and buried him. The moral is obvious« Another symbol of this Saturday is Lazarica. several 6 to 12 years old girls gather and choose the youngest of them. they mourn him. The chosen one will wear white bride clothes and will decorate her hair with jasmine flowers. but the branch he was sitting on broke and he fell to his death. . His three sisters. on a Saturday. According to another story. These objects are then used for love and health spells. in some regions fruit trees are not planted. sits in the center of the circle and makes a few steps back and forward. thus getting a glimpse of what was happening in heaven. Finding him dead. The girls who execute the ritual of ´Lazaritaµ. There was Lazarus. As the willow made a bridge for her. In the morning of this day. the fruit trees and the flowers bloom. As she refused. who prays to God for the forgiveness of the human sins. impaled him with a fork and threw him into the bottoms of the hell so hard that he bounced back. This day is the celebration of the nature revival. Mary put a blessing on it. the devils burnt all his fortune. also named ´Lazaritaµ. also known as ´brideµ. wearing iron boots and a steel rod. not fruits. As his mother did not have enough time for baking him pies. girls place a mirror and the shirt they will wear the next day under a pear tree. That is the reason for which the women bake pies on this day. The pies are also baked in the memory of Lazarus the poor. in the search of her son. His mother left. stating that its wood could not be transformed into coal and that its branches would be taken to church every year. enjoying the ultimate peace. His mother mourned him and asked God not to forgive the women who don·t bake pie in Lazarus· Saturday. thinking they will grow quickly. the boy died. especially to the families with little children. the Flowers Day (Romanian: ´Floriiµ) is celebrated. He climbed a tree in order to shake its leaves down for the sheep. the other girls are singing about Lazarus. while Jesus was crucified. went searching for him. This is also the time when the girls plant flowers. crying. The bad man begged him to ask God for his forgiveness. In Transylvania and Banat. letting him burn in hell. as it is believed they will only make flowers. Other version of the legend tells that Lazarus himself made the branch break. in the evening of this day. Also called ´grain flowerµ. Lazarus left for the forest with his flock.

for being sanctified by the priest. The dead return to pass the Easter near the loved ones.That is why. With the willow branches. The willow is also used in commercial purposes ² before taking the animals to the market for selling. pure girls and old women. She is believed to take the laziest girls at her home and eat them. It is also a day for commemorating the dead. ´nettle·s weddingµ is on Annunciation day or on the Thursday before the Easter. They will remain at their old houses until the Saturday before the Rusalii. when pies and bowls are doled for their souls. when the weather is bad. Girls and women must finish sewing the new blouses for the Easter until this day. eaten especially during the fast. a mythical woman who beats or burns them. skies. symbol of spring and fertility. to please the buyers. the next summer will be beautiful. so that the dead could have light and heat. fish may be eaten. Another (not so cruel) version goes that Joimarita spells those girls. a day before and only by hand (they must not be cut). fires must be lighted in the morning and in the evening. The weather on the Easter will be similar to the one from this day. On the way home they must not be let down and will be placed on a fence or on another object until morning. As it is still quite cold. People must not work on this day and the table must remain laid all the time. Anybody who swallows a sanctified catkin will be healthy and light as the willow flowers. when the burial places are cleaned and willow branches are put above. It is also believed that the people who wear the willow branches as a belt will not suffer of loin aches. The fires are lighted for every soul or it is only lighten a fire for all the dead souls. they must be touched with the willow branches. The brushwood can only be gathered by children. catkins are placed on the fire. are considered a very healthy food. As it is believed the nettles begin to bloom. In some regions. this being called the ´nettle·s weddingµ. It is believed that the spirits sit on the roofs or in the yards. Even it is fast. they aren·t used as food anymore. cows and little children are touched. doors of heaven and hell open this day. on this day people bring flowers and willow branches to the church. in order to grow and bloom as the willow. who eats three catkins will not suffer of throat aches. Another use of the catkins is for protection against the storms and hail. It is said that if the frogs can be heard until this day. According to the Romanian tradition. so that they wouldn·t be able to work all the year. . Great Thursday The Thursday before the Easter is called ´the Great Thursdayµ. The holy branches are then placed near the icons or above the door and are used throughout the year as a medicine or for protection against the natural disasters. ´the Thursday of sufferingsµ or ´the black Thursdayµ. The nettles. Otherwise they will be punished by Joimarita. In the summer. graves. so that the resulting smoke would drive away lightning and thunders. when the fire will be lighted.

Girls and women carry water buckets to the graves or to the fire. in order to be protected from bruises. but the things that had been doled in their memory. Blue painted eggs are an exception. but in time other colors were also applied ² yellow. Because it·s a good thing to have a new piece of clothing on the Easter. as it is believed that doing that they will be healthy and they will know they·ll dye three days before. People go to church to confess. twelve red painted eggs are taken to the church until the Easter and they are buried then at the village boundaries. you won·t suffer from bone illness. They are let there until the Easter. Laundry can not be done this day. with about two weeks in advance. butcher the lambs. This is why the cleaning starts on Great Thursday. People don·t eat on this day. Easter The Easter is the most important celebration of the Romanian people and it is preceded by numerous preparations and rituals. as they won·t fruit. . as it is believed that some souls will sit on chairs and other will sit on the ground. who are usually working in the field or at the forest. blue and even black. bring water. it is the day when Jesus was crucified. so that the hail wouldn·t come upon it. because the other colors will look better when applied over it. In other regions. girls and young wives start to sew shirts for them and also for their parents. for the dead that will sit there. so that the dead won·t receive the dirty water. will remain home starting with this day and will take out the thrash. Initially the only accepted color was red. In the villages the paint is still obtained from plants. fix the fence. If you bathe in the river before the sun rises. Men. the earth may not be ploughed and trees may not be planted. as it is believed that they won·t alter. The tradition recommends that you step on a piece of iron when you wake up. In Walachia the eggs are painted on Wednesday and taken to the church on Thursday. cut wood. Bread may not be baked. Most of the women paint the eggs on the Great Thursday. Traditional Easter food The eggs are painted starting with Thursday.Chairs with blankets are also put near the fire. Great Friday The Friday before the Easter is called the Great Friday. In Bucovina it is said that who bathes three times in a cold river will be healthy all year long. Women are the ones that paint and decorate the eggs. It·s a must for the people to have a clean house and have all the ritual foods ready. do the laundry and generally clean the house. brothers. Also named ´the Friday of sufferingsµ. husbands or children. The eggs are usually first painted yellow. green.

oregano or amber. black alder and nut tree bark. the first painted egg is called a Åtryµ. The paint for the green eggs.In Banat. These eggs are obtained from eggs first painted yellow and then red. . This is called a ´cross pascaµ. as it will return for it and grant you any wish you have. a special Easter cake. they noticed the peasant had given them exactly corn bread. You shouldn·t let it take it. The most interesting traditional eggs are the decorated eggs (in Romanian they are called ´oua incondeiateµ. ´ruseleµ or ´roseteleµ (in Romanian ´rosuµ means ´redµ) are colored with a paint obtained from red alder tree bark. In Walachia the saw and the plough are also drawn and in Moldavia the lightning and the fork. or it can have dough braids. being directly obtained from white. so that they knew it was Easter time. The paint is obtained from woods. It has a round shape (reminding little Jesus· diapers) or a rectangular one (the shape of His grave). The ´pascaµ can be simple. you·ll see an animal (usually a dog) trying to take that egg. like the others. with jagged margins. while the ´cross pascaµ is taken to the church. The most used decorative motifs for these eggs are: the lost path (on which the souls of the dead walk toward the judgment). At one end it has linen or cotton little pieces. The black eggs are also called ´negreleµ or ´negreteµ (in Romanian ´negruµ means ´blackµ) and remind of the Jesus· sufferings on the cross. unpainted eggs. he put food in their bags. beginning with the middle of the Fast) on a garbage dump. In contact with the surface of the egg. different kinds of willow or onion leaves. The ´festeleuµ is a sharp stick made of beech wood. ´oua impiestriteµ. Small ´pascaµ (´pascuteµ) are baked for the little children. also called Ågalbinealaµ. According to the Romanian tradition. A legend from Bucovina goes that the ´pascaµ has been done from the times when Jesus was traveling to the world together with his apostles. also called ´roseleµ. These are boiled in borsch. Looking in the bags. µPascaµ. but especially on Saturday. is baked on Great Thursday. pasque flower and woods. the cross. The apostles asked Jesus when the Easter is and He replied that the Easter would be when they would find corn bread in their bags. They remained a night at a peasant house and when they left. In some regions ´pascaµ is also baked on St. reminding of Jesus· crucifixion. The ´festeleuµ is soaked in melted wax. Red eggs. in which bluestone had been put. in order to be sanctified. little dots will appear. These eggs are not first painted yellow. Ågalbinareµ. George Day. if on Saturday before the Easter you place an egg (on which you have drawn something every day. These take the form of very thin and round sticks and are called ´chisita (bijara)µ. The middle braid is cross-shaped. The simple ´pascaµ is for the family. Ågalbineteµ sau Ågalbineleµ (in Romanian ´galbenµ means ´yellowµ) are painted with an extract of wild apple tree bark and leaves. so it wouldn·t alter until Easter. The yellow eggs. cinnamon. animals and kinds of crosses are also drawn. ´matuf (motoc)µ or ´festeleuµ. In the Easter morning it·s shared between the children residing in that house. the fir or oak leaf. ´oua inchiestriteµ). also called ´albastreleµ (in Romanian ´albastruµ means ´blueµ) are painted with an extract of sunflower. Special instruments are used for decorating them. Various plants. also called ´verdeteµ (in Romanian ´verdeµ means ´greenµ) is obtained from pasque flower. The blue eggs. sunflower seeds or nettles.

raisins and sometimes sugar and cinnamon. It is supposed that a child born on Easter. announcing them the Easter has came. Eggs are knocked until the third Easter day. at the time when bells ring. people wash themselves in a bowl with water. where red painted eggs and silver and golden coins were also put. egg yolk. when all the cleaning and preparations in the house are done. According to the tradition. The traditional Easter lamb also symbolizes Jesus. After they clean and dress the new clothes. These Easter candles are kept for the times of danger. The bells are also ringed at midnight. due to the silver and golden coins. after they enter the house and make crosses. will get ill. A fire is lighted near the church and it will be kept for all the three Easter days. but he doesn·t do it. people first taste the anaphora and then sit to the table. one to the other. He must give his egg to the winner. calling the people to the church. They first eat some of the sanctified aliments and only then the rest. In the first day of Easter. however. In some regions. otherwise he will eat its egg rotten on the other world. The most beautiful painted eggs are emptied of their content and used as decorations. symbolizing Jesus· grave. until the ´Ispasµ or until the ´Great Sundayµ. It is believed that the hens are protected this way of the hawks. in order that the family should be healthy. the ancient belief that the shells are taken by the river to the country of the Good People.Among the ingredients are pot cheese. It is believed that those who knock their eggs will see each other on the other world. where the aliments will be sanctified. There·s the custom of knocking the eggs. On Monday they can be knocked top to the bottom and on the next days they can be knocked any way. The major explanation is. as it is said that who can go to the church on Easter night. being put on a rope and then hanged near the icons or in other places. The shells of the eggs used for the ´pascaµ are thrown in a river. eggs are only knocked with the top. People hold lighted candles during the religious mass and only put them out when they return home. eggs and steak and go to the church. after death. then the children to the parents and then the other relatives and friends. when the roosters announce the midnight. This action has two explanations. the one whose egg cracks first is weaker and he will die quicker. in the ´clean roomµ. The cakes (called ´cozonaciµ) have a round or rectangular long shape. The first ones to knock their eggs are the parents. believing that these animals will confer to the people some of their agility. Before going to the church. In some regions. the pies and the cakes are put on the table. At home. Only the ill old men and little children remain at home. In Banat region. . the man who watches the fire shuts with his rifle. the steak. They believe that this way they will be as glowing and healthy as the eggs and they will be clean and will have more money. when they will have a protective function. the remains of the sacrificed lamb are buried under an apple or a pear tree. Saturday night. will be lucky all his life. The shepherds and the other persons who are away from home on Easter day eat willow or apple tree buds instead of anaphora. the people take a bowl with ´pascaµ. rabbit or fish meat is first eaten.

The man that dies on the Easter day or in the next week is blessed. As it is believed that those girls will marry soon. Usually. The Good People are religious people and fast each time they should. a belief stating that the hands of the one who does it will transpire during the summer. about eight days later. On her way she met a pagan girl who wanted to buy her eggs. wells are built and cleaned. that very thing happened and the girls fainted in fear. The girl asked her to accompany her home. Also touching salt directly is not recommended. carrying a basket of eggs. splashing the girls with water. All these are done as it is believed that those springs and fountain will have plenty of water and won·t dry. announcing them Christ·s revival. the Good People have a small stature. but lacked the appropriate money. the boys catch the girls when they go out from the house and take them to the fountain or to the river. Some nearby boys noticed them and tried to revive them. According to the legend. but she resisted. in order to sell them. there is a tradition called ´the wettingµ. where they wet them. the boys throw water on them. right after Thomas· Sunday. It is said that three candles burn in the sky during the three days of the Easter. on the Friday before the Easter week. thus being able to pay. The Small Fountain In some regions. they live in isolation. On Monday and Tuesday the married couple go to their relatives. However they are not aware of the day when Easter is celebrated until they see remains of the painted eggs on the water. the Good People are the ancient·s spirits. On Monday morning. bringing them ´pascaµ. where Saturday·s water spills into the Earth. water springs are searched for. In the Romanian tradition. on Good People·s Easter. They meet with the women only one time each year. fasting and praying along the other men. According to one of the legends. On their way the Christian girl tried to convert the pagan to her religion. they reward the boys who had wetted them by giving them the most beautiful decorated eggs and ´pascaµ or cake. . packages containing red painted eggs and pies are placed on the graves and candles are lighted. In some places.µ To their amazement. If they found them sleeping. once upon a time a Christian girl was heading toward the market. the younger people go to the oldert ones. The boys are taken care of by the mothers until they are able to live by themselves. do not wear any kind of clothes and are covered by hair. The Good People·s Easter (Dead People·s Monday) The Good People·s Easter is celebrated a week after the Easter. which live between the two worlds. as a thank you gift. Upon their awakening. the girls offered the red eggs to the boys. the boys take a bucket of water and go to the houses of the unmarried girls. Transylvania). because it is said that he will be sleepy all year long. On the Easter day one must not sleep. ´I will believe in Christ only if these eggs here will turn red. even throwing them in the water. on Monday. In some regions (Bucovina. as the skies are believed to be opened at this time. his soul heading straight to heaven. In gratitude for the dead. After that. according to the traditions.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful