Orthodox believers in Romania are gearing up to celebrate Easter with their usual fervour on April 15, drawing on a rich variety of Easter traditions that Romanians have preserved.
The celebrations started with Holy Week, usually held a week later than Catholic Holy week. Despite the different date, it also begins with Palm Sunday (Florii, in Romanian), when Jesus entered Jerusalem and ends on Easter Sunday, marking Christ’s resurrection.
While most Christians observe these festivals, Romanians do things their own way. On Good Thursday, people take food and drink to church and boiled eggs are painted.
Tradition says that if the eggs turn red this day, they will keep from spoiling all year. The favoured colour for Easter eggs is, therefore red, but other colours like green, yellow or blue, are also used.
In some parts of Romania, mainly in Bukovina, in the north, there is a tradition of colouring eggs, using different geometrical and floral motifs. The process involves various paints and wax. The egg painting ritual still survives, but only a few people still know this art.
The tradition on Good Friday is to place flowers in church for Christ and to pass under a table three times, signifying the pains that Christ endured when he carried his cross to his hill of crucifixion at Golgotha.
On the night between Holy Saturday and Easter [Passion] Sunday, people go to church to celebrate the resurrection by attending midnight mass, where they light candles. They take the lighted candles home to keep the holy spirit alight in their homes, souls and lives.
At home, they eat certain Easter dishes, which include “Pasca”, a traditional Easter cake, a sweet bread called “Cozonac”, which is a slightly sweet yeast-raised egg bread, lamb soup and lamb steak. They also eat haggis, a traditional Easter dish made from the organs of a lamb, and, of course the painted eggs.
The coloured Easter eggs can be eaten now, as they are boiled, but only after the tradition of tapping the eggs between two people. This involves making a saying with religious connotations. The first person says, “Christ has risen” [“Hristos a inviat”], while the second responds, “He is risen indeed” - in Romanian, “Adevarat a inviat”.
On Easter Sunday morning, people usually go to church for the Easter morning mass. This mass is not as well attended as the midnight mass. After that, they go back home and eat the blessed food, which they have taken with them to the church.
There are many other local Easter traditions. In Bukovina, on the night of Easter, there is the custom of fire vigils. Fires are lit on hills and burn all night. In Transylvania, young girls are sprayed with perfume by boys dressed in traditional clothes on Easter Monday. This way, the girls will have good luck all year.
If Romanian cozonak is anything like Bulgarian kozunak (which is also eaten at Easter), it is one of MY FAVORITE THINGS EVER. Nom nom nom so delicious.
I believe they also do the perfume spraying in Hungary.
How to make pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs).
I wanted to share with you our Serbian traditional way of dying Easter eggs - no artificial colors or dyes needed.
Put any leaves you like on the surface of the egg and carefully place them in a stocking. Boil these eggs in water full of onion skins. The result are beautiful, earthly colors and interesting patterns.
They use flowers and leaves in a stocking in Bulgaria too, although at least in my experience people use colored dye.
Edit: In response to a question on my dash, you do have to fasten the end of the stocking. Tying up the end of it as close to the egg as possible should hold the leaf or flower in place.
The Mosaic Egg
The Royal Colletion
“Technically one of the most sophisticated and extraordinary of Fabergé’s Imperial Easter Eggs, the Mosaic Egg retains its ‘surprise’. It takes the form of a medallion painted on ivory with the portraits of the five children of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra on one side and a basket of flowers and their names on the other, on a stand surmounted by the Russian imperial crown, held within the egg by gold clips. The egg was the Tsar’s Easter gift to his wife in 1914, but the original invoice was destroyed and the cost is therefore unknown. The Tsarina’s monogram and the date 1914 are set beneath a moonstone at the apex of the egg. It comprises a platinum mesh into which tiny diamonds, rubies, topaz, sapphires, demantoid garnets, pearls and emeralds are fitted – perfectly cut, polished and calibrated to fill the spaces.This extraordinary technical feat is all the more impressive because the platinum is not welded but cut.The five oval panels around the centre of the egg feature a stylised floral motif, replicating the technique of petit-point. In the list of confiscated treasures transferred from the Anichkov Palace to the Sovnarkom in 1922, the egg is described thus: ‘1 gold egg as though embroidered on canvas’. The designer, Alma Theresia Pihl, was inspired to produce the needlework motif when watching her mother-in-law working at her embroidery by the fire. Alma Pihl came from a distinguished family of Finnish jewellers employed by Fabergé. Her uncle, Albert Holmström, took over his father August’s workshop and was the workmaster responsible for the production of this bejewelled egg. The egg was confiscated in 1917 and sold by the Antikvariat in 1933 for 5,000 roubles. It was purchased by King George V from Cameo Corner, London, on 22 May 1933 for £250 ‘half-cost’, probably for Queen Mary’s birthday on 26 May.
This Sunday is Easter for Roman Catholics and Protestants, but not until next Sunday for Orthodox Christians. A few months ago I wrote up a post on why Western and Eastern churches celebrate Christmas at different times - it’s also applicable to Easter.
Easter is, however, a movable feast, meaning it doesn’t always fall on the same date. So sometimes Western and Eastern churches do celebrate it on the same date - but this year is not one of those times.
How to make pisanki (Polish Easter eggs).
The results of this video are a lot simpler than some of the really amazing works of art on eggs you can find out there, but I suppose it would take longer than a four minute video to learn how to make those.
Outside a supermarket in this small town, Dagmar Berkova gingerly loaded her sport-utility vehicle for the trip across the border to her home in the Czech Republic. Her prized cargo: five dozen eggs.
With Easter coming Sunday and egg prices surging as stricter European Union rules for chicken farmers take effect, people across Central and Eastern Europe are traveling to neighboring countries, visiting rural markets and raising hens to secure less-expensive supplies.
"We’re stocking up for the holiday," said Ms. Berkova, a 42-year-old pharmacist. Eggs in Poland cost about 40% less than in the stores near her house, she said. Ms. Berkova said 20 eggs were for her mother. The rest were for her family to decorate and eat for Easter.
Europe’s annual pre-Easter bump in demand, which usually makes eggs more expensive in February and March, is this year coinciding with a drop in supply as farmers adjust to the new EU rules mandating roomier cages for laying hens. The result: soaring prices.
In the Czech Republic, the average price of 10 fresh eggs in mid-March was €2.07 ($2.76), more than double what it was at the same time last year, according to the government statistics office. Prices also have more than doubled in Poland and Bulgaria.