Easter in Romania

This year's Resurrection Day, or Easter Sunday, fell on the 8th of April. In Romania, Easter is called "Paste," which is one of the largest festivals in the country. To celebrate Easter, people work hard to prepare special dishes for the feast. The Easter dishes in Romania include colorful Easter eggs, a variety of lamb dishes made from almost the entire lamb, and Romanian specialties like "sarmale" (stuffed cabbage) and "cozonac" (pancake-like sweets). Lamb dishes and cozonac are the most popular Easter foods in Romania.

On the eve of Easter Sunday, people start gathering at church a little before the midnight. And then, on the stroke of the midnight, priests holding crosses, pictures of saints, and candles come out of the backroom of the church, chanting a sermon. People attending the mass also hold candles in their hands, and they get holy fire from the priests to light their candles. Then, they gather at a square in front of the church, saying to each other, "Christ returns to life!" and "Indeed He returns!" Thus, Easter begins with a fantastic view of candlelight spreading at the square.

In Romania, it is said that your wishes come true if you make a wish and keep your candle lit on your way home from the midnight mass. After returning home from church with holy fire lighting their candles, people enjoy a feast to celebrate Easter with families and friends, even at midnight. First, they eat bread they were given at church.  Then, they break colored eggs by hitting each other with the eggs while saying "Christ returns to life!" and "Indeed He returns!" When the feast ends, candles are lit again so the guests can return home with candlelight to make a wish.

A Japanese lady living in Romania says: "These days in Romania, religion is not very closely linked with people's daily lives. It might be in line with the trends of the times, and not so many people go to church regularly. Most of the young generations seldom go to church except on Easter and Christmas, just like young Japanese do not join most of traditional ceremonies except New Years. Still, it is wonderful that they celebrate Easter as an occasion, even if it's only once a year, to spend a relaxing time with their families and friends and wish for their happiness. For the Easter celebration, families get together for preparation, cleaning their houses, making special dishes and coloring Easter eggs. They also share their dishes with their neighbors, which is nice. And the greatest part of Romania Easter, for me, is the midnight mass with candle light--the view of thousands of candles lit in the darkness in the silence of night makes us feel at peace, no matter whether we are Christians or not. I think this annual festival lasts long even in the modern days because everybody feels it is an important part of life to have a moment to let us keep peace in our souls."

People have a few days before Easter to enjoy a relaxing time.

On Easter day, people go to church, including those who come less frequently. It is not just a religious festival but also a good occasion for people to slow down to figure out their lives.

(Yuko Kishikami)

June 7, 2007