The majority of Romanians are Orthodox, which means that Easter is held on a different date each year, as the first Sunday after the first full moon which falls after or on the spring equinox. While Catholics take into consideration the actual spring equinox, Orthodox starts the Easter calculus from 3rd of April, which counts as an equinox. In some years, the Catholic and the Orthodox Easter fall on the same day.
Romanians have a great deal of traditions and customs for almost everything and Easter, as the Resurrection of Jesus, and Christmas, as His Birth, are the two most important Christian holidays. Besides its religious connotation, Easter also represents the gift of bringing families together.
It all begins with the Lent (Romanian: Postul Mare), a period of 40 days which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, representing Jesus’ time in the wilderness while enduring Satan’s temptations. Lent is a time when each individual should repent, fast from foods and prepare for the coming of Easter.
The Holy Week before Easter is a time of abundant customs and traditions. People go into general spring cleaning, washing, fixing, and reordering everything in their households.
There are several superstitions regarding the fifth day of the Holy Week, Maundy Thursday. It is said that should you sleep on this day, you will be lazy the whole year. Also, the dead come yearly on this day to their old homes and rest there until the Saturday before the Rose Sundays.
Maundy Thursday is also the day all traditional foods and cleaning should be finished, as well as painting the eggs red, as it is said that if you do it on this day, they will last longer or… even forever.
On the next day, Good Friday or Black Friday, the crucifixion and death of Jesus is commemorated by abstaining from eating and drinking the entire day, allowing themselves to eat Holy bread from the church in the evening.
On Saturday, the lamb is sacrificed for the traditional food “drob de miel”. Also on Saturday, people dress in their newest clothes, most of them bought especially for this occasion, and then go the Resurrection service at church, where they will light a candle which must be taken home while burning and kept for “dark times”. Another thing people receive at church is the “pasti” which is bread soaked in red wine, a combination which signifies the body of Christ.
In tandem with the Resurrection of Christ, there is also the Easter Bunny story that children greatly enjoy. The Easter bunny, symbolizing fertility, brings the children gifts and leaves them randomly for the kids to find.