Romanian Easter is one of the most important celebrations in the country fighting for the top spot with Christmas. Visiting Romania during this holiday gives you the extraordinary occasion to experience local traditions, savory dishes and submerge into the Romanian customs and way of life. Here is what a typical Romanian Easter looks like.
Romanian Easter – religion, and faith
Romania’s main religion is Orthodoxy and Romanian Easter is a profound religious event. Although Romanians have borrowed some of the original pagan symbols like the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs (all symbolizing fertility and nature revival), all celebrations are mainly centered around the Church.
Orthodox Easter falls in the first Sunday that precedes the full moon after the spring equinox. Therefore it varies in date and in 2018 it is celebrated on the 9th of April.
Romanian Easter starts with Holy Week or Passion Week that follows the trials and death on the cross of Jesus. During this week people fast, clean and prepare their homes for the major celebrations for the weekend to come and attend church. Confessions are a common practice during this period.
The most important days of the week are Friday and Sunday. Also known as Good Friday or Vinerea Mare in Romania, it is the day that commemorates the death of Jesus and his ultimate sacrifice. Romanians have a day off and avoid doing house chores. Working on such an important day is frowned upon and considered a sin.
On Saturday night Romanians go to church to attend mass and to receive light. This is the moment they celebrate Jesus revival and his rise to the Heavens. To take light means lighting a candle from the one the priest takes out of the altar that is supposed to be lit by divine intervention. In rural places, it is common for someone to bring a rooster to church in order for it to sing at exactly midnight.
After the ceremony streets fill with people taking their lit candles home bathing the cities or villages in warm light. It is quite a magical sight.
Romanian Easter – the savory dishes
Romanians always celebrate with food. Be it Christmas, Easter, a wedding, a burial or some other type of event, Romanians have a specific dish for each. Truly religious people fast for about a month before Easter. This means no animal products during this period (along with avoiding swearing or having sinful thoughts). The fast ends on Sunday, after receiving light.
On Sunday people gather around the family table or go out on a picnic and enjoy traditional Romanian food. Here is what you should expect of an Easter dinner:
Painted eggs. It is said that someone placed a basket with eggs at Jesus’ feet when he was crucified and his blood tainted the eggs, hence the tradition. Nowadays, the method of painting is less grim and eggs come in a variety of colors. In Maramures and Bucovina egg decorating is an art and it can take up to months to finish one eggshell.
And then is the cracking of the eggs. Romanians have some sort of competition in which one person holds the egg, the other one knocks on it with his egg and says “Hristos has risen” to which the other response with “Yes, he has risen”. The one whose egg cracked is the looser.
Lamb roast and haggis. The main meat at the Easter table is lamb. Romanians usually turn it into roast but in some parts of the country soup and stew are also delicious options. Another option is some type of haggis or meatloaf out of lamb liver mixed with condiments.
Sweet bread and pasca. Sweet bread is the traditional Romanian dessert. It is a delicious puffy dough filled with cocoa, raisins and Turkish delight and walnuts. It goes great with boiled eggs, milk or by its own. Pasca is also a type of sweet bread but with sweet cheese and raisins.
Romanian Easter – where to go
The best place to really feel the Easter celebrations are the villages. In rural Romania traditions are kept in an authentic way that has nothing to do with chocolate bunnies or other imported symbols.
The remote villages of Măgura and Peștera, picturesque mountain villages situated between the mountains of the Carpathians, are a great place to visit during this period. Here people enjoy picnics with delicious food among spring flowers.
Mărginimea Sibiului (the outskirts of Sibiu), with villages such as Sibiel, is considered a European Destination of Excellence and an international culinary destination. It is a certainty that the Easter dishes served here are not only authentic Romanian but also mouth watering.
Whether you come for the food or to experience the traditional Romanian way of life, consider choosing a local guide that can help you organize the vacation of your dreams. Experienced and friendly, we’re always happy to share stories about Romania and make sure you have a lovely stay in our beautiful country. So check our predefined tours or give us a buzz and we’ll customize any of them according to your needs and interests.