Traditions and customs on Maundy Thursday in Romania

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Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday, or Thursday of Mysteries is the holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter, marking the Maundy and the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. This meal is the last time Jesus spent with his disciples when he told them what will happen.

In the Romanian orthodox tradition, Maundy Thursday is the day when the last memorial service for the dead takes place in the Lent.

Maundy Thursday has traditionally been up to the present the day when the eggs are painted in red; the tradition says that the eggs reddened on this day resist all year long.

In Romania, before painting, eggs are cleaned with washing powder and water, are rinsed off, dried then they are boiled in dye. In the past, housewives used to dye eggs in onion skins, in tutsan or linden flowers and they were polished with fat or bacon.

Another popular tradition says that Maundy Thursday was a deadline for women in the village to end spinning the hemp. The legend has it Joimarita, a legendary character, came to the lazy women to see what they had been working and if she saw them sleeping she made them powerless for the rest of the year. Sometimes, an old woman used to visit the houses where young girls lived and used to set the unspinned hemp on fire. In other areas, children with their faces dyed in black, used to urge young girls to work and gave them eggs to decorate for Easter.

In southern Romania, there was one custom on Maundy Thursday saying that girls have to make 12 knots to a thread, making a wish for each of them and untying them when the wish came true. The girls have to put the thread under their pillows at night, hoping to dream of their future husbands. Also in this region in the south older women are washing children’s feet on this day.

In western Romania, people make the bread for Easter and bring it to the church together with wine and candles and the bread stays in the church until Easter.

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