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easter in romania

About Easter

Easter is the biggest religious celebration in the Christian world. In Romania, the majority of people are Christian (over 90%) and roughly 80% are Christian Orthodox. Countries with similar large communities of Christian Orthodox are Russia, Greece, Bulgaria, Ukraine.

Just like in most Christian countries, Easter is also a state holiday. However, in most years, Easter in Romania is celebrated on a different day than most of the world. This is because the Easter date in the Orthodox Churches is set by using the old or Julian calendar. This is the calendar that had been in use since the Roman times.

But this calendar is 13 days off from the current or Gregorian calendar in use. This is why usually Easter is celebrated between 1 – 6 weeks apart in the Western and Eastern Churches. Sometimes it can fall on the same Sunday, but in most cases it is on a different day.

The Easter holiday is also a chance for families to get together, have a feast with many traditional dishes and rejoice. The Easter table in Romania consists mainly of dishes with lamb – soup, steak and pie. The lamb is a symbol for Christ the Redeemer, who was sacrificed to save humanity.

Another important dish for Easter is called ‘pasca’. In Romania, this dessert made of leavened dough, cottage cheese and raisins needs to be baked on Saturday morning. After this, it is taken to church for the Easter mass when it will be blessed. Pasca baked in Romania is usually round and has a large cross made of dough over its surface.

On Easter night – at midnight – Romanians go to church in large numbers. Most will stand outside the churches, since there is little room inside. They listen to the service on the loudspeakers, sing and wait to receive the holy fire.

This means that their candles are lit by the priest. Then they will take the lit candles home, making sure the light does not go out on the way. Once home, Romanians will make a cross in the air with the candle over the threshold in order to bless the home.

easter in romania

This candle will be kept throughout the whole year. In case of illnesses, troubles or bad weather, they light it again so as to be blessed and receive protection. It is also believed that you should not sleep on Easter night.
Otherwise, the year will be one of bad luck and low harvest.

However, the central symbol of Easter in the traditional sense is the painted egg. The custom in Romania is to paint the eggs on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter).
The most common color used on the eggs is red, symbolizing the blood of Jesus Christ. But in some regions of Romania, like Bucovina, the eggs are adorned with elaborate motifs in different colors. This process can take hours, but the end result is astonishing.

They say that the eggs painted on this day will not go bad all year. Despite this, these eggs must not be consumed until Easter Sunday, because of the fasting period. However, the Easter meal should begin by serving eggs.
Before they are eaten, there will be a kind of a contest. Each member of the family grabs an egg and knocks it against another. One person says ‘Christ is risen!’ and the other answers ‘He is risen indeed!’.
The winner is the one with the egg that remains uncracked.