The Easter celebration is the most important religious celebration in Romania, with Orthodox Christians preparing to celebrate it on Sunday. Around 86 % out of 20 million people of Romanian population is Christian Orthodox.
The last Friday of the Easter fast, also known as the Good Friday is according to the Romanian Orthodox tradition, a day of obligation, meaning no water drop is drunk on this day.
The ethnographers say that the local traditional communities believe that once with the Saviour’s death, a time of chaos and dark is opened and people are stripped of any divine protection. They say that Good Friday would equal to 12 usual Fridays and the Dry Friday, as this day is also known, is explained by the obligation day that many people used to mark.
In some areas of the country, the trees and houses are fumigated with incense to keep them safe from wild beasts, lightning, diseases and pest.
However, the most important tradition preparing Easter is the purity, both material and spiritual.
In the Orthodox faith, one of the mandatory customs on Easter is that everyone must have a clean house and all the ritual foods ready before Easter. This is why the cleaning starts on Great Thursday. Men, who are usually working, will remain home starting with this day and will take out the thrash, fix the fence, cut wood, bring water, butcher the lambs. Women are the ones that paint and decorate the eggs, do the laundry and generally clean the house.
Because it’s a good thing to have a new piece of clothing on Easter day, girls and young wives start to sew shirts for them and also for their parents, brothers, husbands or children, with about two weeks in advance. Nowadays people use to buy the clothes.
In some parts of Romania, mainly in Bukovina, the north part, there is a tradition of egg painting in different geometrical and floral motifs. The process involves various paints and wax. The egg painting ritual is still preserved, but only a few people know the art of decorating the eggs. The eggs are painted starting on Thursday. Initially the only accepted color was red, but other colors were also permitted: yellow, green, blue and even black. In some villages the paint is still obtained from plants.
On the Saturday before Easter Sunday, there is a tradition in Romania that few people miss each year. At midnight, Romanians go to their local church for the Resurrection service to take light from God. The priest lights the first candle and everyone make sure that every candle is lit. This is seen as symbolizing the act of taking the light from God and is an essential part of any Romanian Easter celebration.
After the midnight mass service the family gathers for the first Easter meal. On the first day of Easter, there is customary for the whole family to wash in a bowl were they put red eggs and silver or gold money. The one who washes the last gets all the money. They believe the custom will make everybody healthy and prosperous.
In Transylvania there are some specific traditions, one of which, on the second day of Easter is splashing girls and women. The purpose is that they remain beautiful throughout the year. The groups of boys wander the village until late at night, thus no girl will remain ‘unsplashed’.
Easter meals that are permanently on every Romanian’s Easter table are the red eggs, lamb tripe, ‘pasca’ and cake (cozonac).
A week after Easter Sunday, on the first Monday, a part of Orthodox Christians celebrate Pastele Blajinilor. This feast is also called Prohoadele, Easter Monday or the Dead’s Monday and is dedicated to the spirits.