Romanian Easter Traditions – part 2

Easter is a great chance for celebration, vacation and dining in Romania. With so many different traditions from region to region, I would say it is the most rich in individual culture.

One of the most meaningful traditions in the orthodox religion on Easter is receiving the Holly Light. The journey starts in Jerusalem at the Holly Grave. The Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, followed by the clergy go around the Holly Grave three times chanting religious hymns. After the prayers are over the Patriarch goes inside the chamber of the grave, after a thorough check to make sure he doesn’t have any item to produce fire, with only the “Restless Candle” with him. The clergy stands outside, where it is said that an angel presented itself to Marry Magdalene announcing the resurrection of Christ, chanting prayers. After a while the Patriarch emerges from the crypt with the candle ablaze. He then lights another 12 or 33 candles that are distributed to the clergy. In turn the light other candles, and the Holly Light is shared with priest from all over the world that now have the mission to bring the Light to their own country and share it with the people.

The Romanian Patriarch is accompanied by a number of priests to Jerusalem and after he receives the Light he jumps on a plane with the priests, shares the light with them and head to Romania. Once landed more priests await at the airport to receive the light and take it back to the churches. And so the Holly Light is shared and distributed to all churches in the country. The Easter service lasts all night, and at midnight the priest will bring forward the Light and share it with the people. After the people share the Light among them they make peace with each other and hug.

romanian easter traditions

This tradition with the Holly Light has been disputed many times, scientist proving on several occasions that it is a hoax. The most debated clue was the location itself, many historians and researchers proving that the grave is not the grave of Christ , and the mount is not Golgota. Also there was the notion that the Light does not burn flesh or hair the first 33 minutes, but that fact was dismissed by people that tested the theory.

Another great part of Easter is the food. Usually in Romania on Easter we eat lamb. There are many recipes that are traditionally made on Easter with lamb, like lamb broth, lamb stew with spring greens, and a kind of lamb haggis also made with spring greens.

Of course boiled eggs will not miss from the table, painted and decorated in red and with traditional patterns. Any kind of egg is ok, from quail eggs to ostrich eggs, or even wooden eggs for the cheaters.

Desert is a really important part of the meal and in Romania we do love our sweets. On Easter we have several deserts that are specific to the holiday, like “pasca”. This is a pie like desert with sweet cheese and raisins, sweet and fragrant, covered by a crust of dough. We usually make all sorts of designs on it, either religious symbolism or roses made out of dough.

The most common and popular desert on Easter, and other important holidays would be the sponge bread that we call “cozonac”. It is a true art and only the most skilled Romanians can make the real thing, usually they are our grandmas. The cake is soft, fragrant, filled with walnuts, raisins, Turkish delight and chocolate, with roasted sugar covering it. It is the universal treat for any holiday and highly appreciated by all Romanians.

If you want to try out some of this Easter culinary delight, you can check out the recipes in the links below.


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