CHRIST IS RISEN!
According to the 2002 census over 86% of the Romanians are Orthodox (like the Russians, Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians). The Orthodox Christians usually celebrate Easter at different dates than the Catholics and the Protestants but this year, after 6 years of separate celebration, the three major Christian denominations celebrate Easter on the same day – the 8th of April 2007.
In Romania Easter is the most important religious celebration in the Orthodox calendar and its complete observance requires a period of 40 days fast. Coloured and painted eggs are mandatory for any traditional Easter feast. The eggs are painted on the Thursday before Easter in red (a reminder of Christ’s blood), yellow and other vivid colours. The eggs are beautifully decorated with traditional patterns, following an old technique preserved only in several areas of Romania, especially in the north of the country in Bucovina and Maramures.
Food plays an important role in the Easter feast. The main dishes are the painted eggs followed by ‘drob’ – a coarse lamb pâté, ‘sarmale’ – stuffed cabbage leaves, and then ‘pasca’ – a sort of cheesecake, and ‘cozonac’ – a traditional home baked cake resembling a brioche.
Traditionally, the feast starts when the family comes home after the Resurrection midnight liturgy (mass). After breaking the eggs and uttering the words - ‘Christ is risen!’ - the entire family will enjoy the banquet and begins the celebrations.
On the next morning the family pay visit to their relatives – grandparents, God father, etc. The traditions vary from one region to another. In Transylvania for example the boys sprinkle the girls with perfume. In other regions the young men in the village gather on a nearby hill and set on fire straws to scare the evil spirits. Some traditions associated with Easter trace their origins back to pagan times but in the Orthodox Church they were perfectly integrated within the accepted religious practices.