Easter in Romania is one of the most important religious celebrations and national holidays. In Romania, Easter is celebrated mostly in its Orthodox version, as 84% of the people are orthodox.
This is why, when visiting Romania, don’t be surprised that the time the locals celebrate Easter doesn’t fit your Catholic or Protestant calendar time, but the Orthodox one.
Easter Celebration or Resurrection of Jesus is one of the greatest religious holidays for Christians. During Easter, Christians celebrate Jesus Resurrection. Easter symbolizes joy, light and hope, being a good opportunity to spend time with family and dear friends.
In Romania, Easter is marked by many traditions and customs. Moreover, each region of the country is defined by particular regional customs.
Romanian Easter Traditions: Easter Lent
Preparations for Easter begin with Easter Lent. This is the longest fast of the year, lasting six weeks. It is a harsh and difficult fast, especially during the Holy Week. Lent refers to the 40-day and 40-night Lent held by Jesus Christ before the preaching of the gospel.
During Lent, Christians do not eat meat, eggs, fish, cheese, milk or any other food of animal origin. During the 40 days there are two days when Christians are allowed to eat fish. Throughout Lent, Christians are urged to pray.
In the week before Easter, Christians go to church to confess and share. Confession involves confession of sins and repentance. Also this week, the Denials are celebrated, the most beautiful and uplifting religious services for Christians.
Easter Symbols in Romania: Decorating and Painting Easter Eggs
The tradition of painting Easter eggs comes from a pre-Christian custom, being present in both European and Asian peoples. In Roman times, red eggs were offered on the occasion of the spring equinox.
In the Christian tradition, the painting of Easter eggs is linked to several legends. The most common of these says that the Mother of God came to mourn her crucified son on the cross. She also brought a basket of eggs that she wanted to give to those who were torturing her son, but they made fun of her gesture. Grieving, the Mother of God then placed the basket of eggs next to the cross on which her son was crucified. The blood that flowed from the Savior’s wounds began to color the eggs. Seeing this, he said, “From now on you will make red and variegated eggs in remembrance of my crucifixion, as I did today.”
In some parts of the country, the painting of Easter eggs has become pure art. Thus, Romanian painted eggs have conquered the whole world through the beauty and complexity of the models. Among the most common motifs are the cross, the fork, the fir tree, the oak leaf, floral or zoomorphic motifs. Unlike usual red eggs, painted Easter eggs are not eaten, but they have a purely decorative role. Sometimes the painted eggs are drilled and the egg whites and yolks are removed. In Bucovina, Northern Romania, however, it is said that these empty eggs should not be kept in the house because “the devil is hiding inside them”.
In the first three days of Easter, the Christians knock Easter eggs. Some legends say that those who will knock their red eggs during these days will meet in the other world. The one whose egg is cracked in the knocking custom, must give it to the winner. Otherwise, he will eat the rotten egg after death.
Romanian Easter Traditions: The Religious Service
During Easter night, the night of the Resurrection, people go to church and attend the religious service. It is said that those who do not go to that religious service will get sick and spend the whole year in trouble.
During the service there is a procession around the church. Christians hold a candle in their hand, which they light from the priest’s flame. At the end of the service, each Christian receives a piece of Pasca (traditional Easter food) soaked in wine from the priest. Pasca is the first food to be eaten on Easter day.
Easter Symbols in Romania: The Holy Light Candle
As we said, during the Resurrection service, each Christian lights a candle from the priest’s flame. In traditional terms, the process is called “taking the light”.
Easter candle is the symbol of Christ’s Resurrection. In other words, it is the symbol of the victory of good over evil. Every Christian will try to get home with a lighted candle. During the year, this candle will be lit again in times of trouble, illness, upset or even in bad weather.
In Romania the Easter candles are lit with the Holy Light which is brought during that day directly from Jerusalem. The Holy Light is air transported to all the churches in the country such as, at midnight, all the Christian to know they lit their candles from the Holy Light in Jerusalem.
Romanian Easter Traditions: Easter Traditional Food
Romanian cuisine is extremely varied and tasty. Romanians, gourmets by nature, do not shy away on this occasion from the rich meals.
When it comes to the Romanians’ Easter meals, the lamb is a must. Prepared in many ways, from steak, to soup or stew, lamb is the star of traditional Romanian Easter meals.
Along with the lamb dishes, red eggs are also present, as well as Pasca and Cozonac. Pasca is made of leavened dough, filled with cheese and has a circular shape with braids on the edge, and it is sweet. Cozonac is also a dessert made from leavened dough filled, most often with walnuts and cocoa or just turkish delight.
Easter in Romania: Good to Know as an Expat in Romania
- For Christians, Easter always falls on a Sunday
- As the eggs knock, the one who strikes says “Christ is Risen,” and the other christian says, “He is Risen Indeed.”
- Monday and Tuesday are the second and third day of Easter, usually national holidays
- The week after Easter is called Illuminated Week because, rising from the dead, Jesus enlightened the world
- The week before Easter is called Holy Week
- Until the Ascension, for 40 days, Christians greet each other with “Christ is Risen”, the answer to the greeting being “True is Risen”
- The symbols of Easter in Romanian are: red eggs, Pasca, lamb and lighted candle
Do you want to spend a nice Easter in Romania? Nothing else is more pleasant! Romanians are a friendly and welcoming people and they will most certainly welcome your presence during this holiday. Also, most of the accommodation places, from hotels to rural guest houses celebrate Easter in a very traditional way. Blend in the crowd during the church ceremony and try and not upset your hosts when offering the very tasty food – thus you will better understand Romanians.