Like most Eastern European countries, Romania celebrates Easter with lots of interesting Orthodox traditions. Nevertheless, we always tend to do things our way, which means you’ll also have the chance to see plenty of unique, silly customs if you’re visiting the country during this wonderfully spiritual time of year.
Below is a list of Easter customs and traditions in Romania, some of them quite funny:
We knock eggs
I don’t know where this comes from, but knocking eggs is a symbol of Easter in Romania. The eggs must be boiled and painted otherwise it brings bad luck, especially if they are not boiled :). The ritual goes pretty much like this: One person has to keep the egg in his hand and wait while the other will kick the passive egg with his own. The person who prepares to strike must say “Jesus has risen” and the other one must answer “He has risen indeed”. After knocking the eggs, the loser has to eat his broken egg while the winner has to continue until everyone gets bored. And so, we end up eating many more eggs than we should, getting directly to the point 3.
We buy new clothes
That’s my favorite one! How can you not love this tradition? I remember when I was a child, barely knowing what Easter means, how excited I was to go with my mother or grandma in town to choose my new wardrobe.
Under communism, shopping was not so popular in Romania – the shops were so rare (as far as I remember, there were 2 clothing stores in our town) and fashion was a very strange thing. I was crazy of joy when someone, a friend or a relative, who had been abroad, was coming (usually from Germany) with those huge magazines with beautifully dressed women. It’s a shame I don’t remember their name, as they have been guided my life like a bible. Anyways, you can imagine that now I do my best to make up for all that lost time!
We all gain weight during Easter
Honestly, I don’t know whether to cry or laugh. Gaining weight might be a serious problem, but eating foolishly everything you see on the table like it would be your last meal is a totally different thing. Strangely, we all practice this activity during Easter (or Christmas).
I have never heard in my life of another nation so greedy when it comes to food. Did you know that during Easter or Christmas, hospitals in Romania are full of people who ate too much? Not to mention the news! All the reporters are in hospitals and all the Romanian channels release news about how much do we spend in supermarkets, how many tons of meat have been eaten, and so on.
The wrong meaning of “denia”
In Romania there is a tradition around Easter which says that all the Christians should go to the church in the evenings of Great Thursday, Great Friday, and, of course, Saturday night, before Easter, to attend “denia”- a special service held by the priest.
All the Romanian kids and teenagers, who are usually not allowed to go out or stay too late, tell their parents that they go to the “denia”, but in fact, none of them goes. This is the best excuse when they want to justify any delay. The truth is that they are all going to parties planned long ago or they spend the night in bars and clubs. You would be surprised to see how organized they are when it comes to planning all these parties, and believe me, I was one of them once.
The Passion Week
The week before Easter is called “Passion Week” in Romania. During this period, Christians are forbidden to eat animal products and to commit any kind of bodily sin in order to purify their body and soul.
As you can imagine, Easter in Romania is much more than that, I just tried to capture a bit of its witty essence with these funny customs.