The Catholic believers in Romania and around the world celebrate Easter today, while Orthodox believers mark the Palm Sunday.
According to the last census in 2011, there are 870,774 Roman-Catholics living in Romania (4.62%) of the population, 600,932 Reformed (3.19%) and 150,593 Greek Catholics (0.8%).
One of the most common Catholic Easter traditions is to bring baskets with food at the church to be blessed by the priests on Easter day. According to this tradition that dates back in the 15th century, Catholic believers put Easter cakes, red painted eggs, bread, meat, chocolate and wine in the baskets covered with white towels.
Christians are communicated with ostie (non-proofing bread) and they practice procession (procesiunea) meaning the encirclement of the church together with the priests. On Saturday, before the Resurrection, people take their baskets with painted eggs (preferable red), cake (cozonac), lamb meet and wine to be hallowed.
On Sunday morning, before breakfast, all family members wash their faces with water from a bowl in which they put a red egg and some money, symbols of health and wealth.
Similar to Orthodox traditions, Catholics gift away painted eggs or they tap the eggs to see which one has the strongest shell. The predominantly color for Easter eggs is red, but other colors like yellow, green or blue are also used.
The most famous Catholic Easter tradition in our country is spraying, a habit that comes from Germany. First, spraying was made with water, but nowadays they use perfume; water sprinkle symbolizes purification. The custom originated in pre-Christian period is the symbol of life and fertility, and was practiced by several Germanic peoples.
In Transylvania, spraying was made even in noblemen’ families up to the end of 19th century, after which tradition was kept only in rural areas. For spraying, nowadays people use perfume instead of water. The tradition is that boys go to girls’ homes where they ask their parents for permission to ‘wet’ the girls, while they say a poem: I was in a green forest; I saw a violet blue, standing to fade. Do I have permission to spray it? Young men are rewarded with red eggs, wine and cakes.
In Mures, the third Easter day, after women are sprayed, the tradition tells that boys, too get to be sprinkled. They only get away if the weather is too cold.
Easter sprinkle custom was brought to Transylvania during the middle Ages by Saxons from Sibiu County.
President Klaus Iohannis also celebrate Easter, attending the Resurrection service at the Roman-Catholic Church “The Holy Trinity” in Sibiu on Saturday night, which was officiated in three languages, Romanian, Hungarian and Germna, due to the high number of Magyar and Transylvanian Saxon believers living in the city. The President, accompanied by his wife, also attended the Easter service on Sunday, wishing “Happy Easter” to Catholic and Reformed believers and “Happy name day” to the Orthodox believers on Palm Sunday.
“ Jesus Christ is risen! To all those who celebrate Easter today, I tell them Jesus is risen, and to to the Christians who celebrate the Palm Sundya I say Happy holidays, a beautiful Palm Sunday and Happy name day to all those who celebrate their name”, the President said.
PM Viorica Dancila also wished those who are celebrating Easter today good health, peace and happiness next to their families. Dancila also delivered a message on Palm Sunday (which marks the start of the Holy Week) for the Orthodox believers, saying ” this is a time of coming closer to all those who are by our side day by day, but also to those who need our support”.
In his address on Easter, Pope Francis, urging believers to leave “for God, and not for fading things, such as success and fortune”.
Palm Sunday in the Orthodox belief
Palm Sunday today, marking the triumphal entrance of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, where he was greeted by believers holding olive branches.
The flowers open the Easter celebrations, which ends with the Ascension of the Lord. Palm Sunday, Floriile in Romanian, is a Christian feast with no exact date, always celebrated on the last Sunday before Easter.
Palm Sunday opens the week for Easter preparations, the so-called Holy Week, after the 40 days of fasting. On that Sunday Christian can eat fish, being the second dispensation of Lent, after the one from the Annunciation (Buna Vestire).
On this special Sunday, people who go to church in Romania return home with blessed willow branches and hang them on the doors or gates or on icons in the house. Some say that who wears the willow branches as a belt will not suffer of loin aches or who eats three catkins will not have throat aches all year long.
They believe that it’s bad luck to give up these willow branches until the next year. People put them on fruit trees to help believing this will make trees fruit. Therefore, they plant trees before Palm Sunday so that they will not remain fruitless. Willow branches from Palm Sunday are considered symbols of fertility and spring vegetation.
Some beekeepers decorate their hives with sanctified willow branches. Thus they believe that bees will be more diligent and make more honey.
The elders say that if it’s sunny on Palm Sunday, Easter will be as sunny. And if you hear the frogs singing until Palm Sunday, that summer will be nice and warm, but full of rain and abundant.