I ended my last blog post with a visit to a cave and the promise of new life, which seemed strangely appropriate on the day before Easter. In Romania, Easter, or Paște, is celebrated according to the calendar of the Orthodox Church, which is based on the Julian calendar. Hence, this year, it fell a week later than in the Western churches.
In Romania, it dawned clear and bright, prompting a friend to joke that ‘the Orthodox have it right this year!’ However, with the Hungarian population celebrating Easter with the Western churches, life can get more than a little complicated in Transylvania at this time of year. Another friend commented that entering Holy week when your friends and relatives are already celebrating the resurrection is a bit like trying to live with a split personality – and I know what she means! I can’t help feeling that the churches should sort this one out for once and for all. In a country where history, culture and language already divide Hungarians and Romanians, the last thing we need is to be celebrating Easter on different days!
Paște. It’s one of the biggest festivals in Romania. Traditionally, celebrations include midnight mass on Saturday, after which the priest emerges with a ‘resurrection’ candle. This is used to light candles among the congregation that are shared among neighbours and friends with the words ‘Hristos a înviat‘ (Christ has risen), to which the response is given, ‘Adevărat, a înviat‘ (Indeed, he has risen).
In the Methodist Church, which is relatively new to Romania, we had a Communion service on Good Friday (Mare Vineri) evening with meditations on the crucifixion. Then, Sunday morning, another Communion service during which we, too, shared candles. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share the light of the resurrection with my readers – and with it, the hope of transformation and renewal that Jesus brings to us and our world.
Hristos a înviat! Paște fericit și binecuvântat!
Another Easter tradition in Romania is to paint or dye hard-boiled eggs (usually red) during Holy Week and then ‘crack’ them on Easter Sunday. One person knocks the tip of their egg against the tip of another person’s egg. It is said that the person whose egg remains unbroken at the end will have a happy and healthy life. Naturally, children continue to enjoy this tradition – especially if their egg remains unbroken!
Traditionally, Sunday dinner is roast lamb (Jesus being the Lamb). Traditional Easter cakes include pască (a kind of cheesecake, usually marked with a cross) and cozonac. We haven’t tried making either of these, yet, but we did buy some of the latter. It’s like a cross between bread and cake, which suits me fine because it’s not too sweet 🙂