Romania’s Easter holiday is probably one of the most important religious holidays in the country.
The date of the holiday changes every year and it follows the Orthodox Easter date, around 86% of Romanians being of Orthodox confession. It is always celebrated on a Sunday and in 2020, the official date is April 19th.
Romanians are big on traditions, and they start preparing for Easter for weeks ahead.
The Thursday before Easter is known as the Holy Thursday and that's the day designated to painting boiled eggs in the traditional red color symbolizing Jesus’ blood when he was crucified. In modern times, people use a multitude of colors and decorations to dye the eggs with, making them as eye-catching as possible. Hand-painted empty eggshells in geometrical motives are also popular in Romania, an art form passed down from generation to generation.
Can we attend the midnight service?
On Easter Sunday, Romanians usually attend the midnight service at the church, bringing a candle from home. The priest will bring out a lit candle from the altar at midnight and he will "give the light" to the people. The crowd shares the holy fire until all the candles are lit, the light symbolizing life prevailing over death and the risen Christ.
This year, we will not be able to attend the midnight service, but volunteers with masks, gloves and a badge will distribute the holy light only to those who requested it and are waiting in front of the house with a candle. After the service begins and the bells rings, the people can stand at their windows, in their balconies or courtyards of their homes, greeting one another with the traditional Easter greeting "Christ is Risen!", from a distance of 2 meters.
Starting with the first day of Easter, people will knock eggs together end-to-end saying “Christ is risen” and “Indeed is risen“, the winner of this “battle" being the person whose egg cracks last.
On the first Easter day, starting at 06.00 AM, volunteers will offer to the elderly and the sick packages with food gifts, including the blessed bread that is known as “Paști”.
What about the traditional Easter lunch?
Food is a big part of Easter in Romania! During the Sunday lunch, people used to get together to enjoy traditional dishes like Pasca (Cottage cheese pastry), Traditional sponge cake (Cozonac) or anything based on lamb meat along with red wine. This type of food can also be found in most of the big supermarkets in Romania during Easter time.
This year, we can only celebrate Easter with the people we live with, inviting others being completely forbidden. You can also bring Easter food to your parents or relatives, but without dining with them.
Before Easter, confessions will continue to take place only at home, at the request of the people. When entering the home of the believers, the priest will use disposable footwear and a sanitary mask, wash his hands with soap and water and disinfectant and will only use a cult book and epitrahil, a liturgical kit and other objects that will be both previously and subsequently disinfected.
While celebrating Easter during this emergency state, everybody has the obligation to comply with the provisions of the state authorities, so try to #stayhome and #staysafe while keeping this tradition alive!