Easter mass in Transylvania

Easter traditions in Romania – a handy guide

Easter is one of the most important and most beautiful holidays of Christianity. Romania is predominantly a Christian country, Romanians belonging in their great majority to the Orthodox Christian rite, so Easter is a special event, who gathers friends and families together. The church is playing an important role in the community, a fact that can be seen every Sunday morning, when the churches are filled with worshipers.

Fasting. The preparation for Easter starts with 40 days in advance, with a period of dietary restrictions ( only vegan foods, with a few exceptions, when fish is allowed) and spiritual improvement . Although people are considering that only the diet is important, one of the most popular voices of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the father Necula from Sibiu, is telling us that “Fasting means talking less, working harder, loving each other more carefully, being more attentive to everything God has given us”.

The light – symbol of Resurrection, the light is the essential element of the Easter holiday.  During the Easter mass, on Sunday, at midnight, the priest comes from the altar with a candle  and share the flare with the worshipers, who are trying to keep their candle lit until the end of the mass. Most families keep the candle remaining after the mass and light it during the year if they have a great deal of trouble.

Funny fact. When the Romanians discovered text messaging via mobile phones, it become a tradition to send a SMS wish to all the agenda. 99% of the messages begun with ” May the light of….” .

Easter mass in Transylvania
Easter mass in Transylvania

Easter eggs. The egg is  a symbol of rebirth, adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the Resurrection of Jesus at Easter. The usual color of the painted egg is red, symbolizing Jesus blood, but in some regions of Romania the eggs are painted with very intricate designs, including floral and geometrical motifs.  A common game on Easter Day, not only for children, is to tap hard boiled eggs with each other to see which one has the strongest shell. Two eggs are tapped together, the first person saying, “Christ is risen,” and the second person saying, “Indeed He is risen.”

Easter painted egg
Easter painted eggs

Food. After 40 days of fasting, the Easter lunch is eagerly awaited. In Romania, all families are having lamb on the menu, cooked in different ways: from roasted lamb to soup, or “drob” a dish similar to haggis, made with lamb organs, eggs and season green onions. Pasca, is a sweet bread made with cheese and raisins, prepared only once a year, specially for Easter.

Pasca
Pasca

The sprinkling of girls. On the second day of Easter, in Transylvania, boys and men are visiting girls and unmarried women and spray them with perfume or cologne.  The boys carefully choose the girls they sprinkle with perfume. As a rule, they visit the girls they like the most and strive to impress them with an expensive perfume. The initial tradition, was to sprinkle the girls with water, symbol of purification, and is still used in some villages in Transylvania.

Spraying the girls
Spraying the girls with perfume

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