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Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter - The Most Important Christian Holiday

Easter was first celebrated around 1400 B.C, the day when the Judaists left Egypt with the aid of God, as the Old Testament claims. Since those times, the Judaists celebrate the fact that the Divinity saved them from their Egyptian slavery. This is the old version of Easter, which got a new meaning, when God's son, Jesus Messiah took physical form and sacrificed for the sake of mankind.
This new commitment of the Divinity is not only one made to the Judaists, but to all of the humans that walk the Earth. It is interesting to notice that in the New Testament Jesus and his followers celebrate the new holy day through the Last Supper, as commanded by God. Before 325 B.C., Easter was celebrated on different days of the week, even Saturday or Friday sometimes. In that year the council of Nicaea was organized by the emperor Constantine, who approved the "pascal law", which set the Easter in the first Sunday after the full moon or after the spring equinox.Easter is the most important religious holiday in Romania, as it has not been "tainted" by consumerism as has Christmas. In Bucovina, girls visit the local church's bell tower at Easter Eve and wash it with fresh water. They'll cleanse their faces with that water as soon as the sun rises on Easter day, so they'll be beautiful all year long. There are interesting traditions in Banat too, where at the Easter breakfast, each person around the table gets "pasti" (holy wine and bread). The local Easter dishes also include boiled pig meat, boiled eggs and other traditional food, plus the classic lamb roast.Another beautiful tradition takes place in Maramures, the Lapus area, where the children who are up to 9 years old go to their friends' and neighbours' houses and announce the resurrection of Jesus. The hosts give each child an egg that's been painted red. In the valley of Crisul Alb, in Almas everyone gathers in the church's yard dressed up for holiday and ready to paint and adorn eggs. Easter wouldn't be the same in Arges without the egg bagels, which are called like this because they are cooked using lots of eggs (about 10-15 for each kilo of flour). They're among the local sweets and children go crazy for them.
In Calarasi, people bring the pascal basket to the church right on the Easter Eve in order for the priest to bless the food. Aside from the eggs painted red and bread, people bring white roosters to church. They are bred especially for this occasion, as they are claimed to announce midnight and the revival of Messiah. The luckiest member of the community is the owner of the firs rooster that sings. As in most cultures worldwide, Romanians still keep the Easter bunny ("Iepuras" in Romanian) in their Easter traditions, the little rabbit that runs around and brings gifts to children. This is a pagan ritual that dates from ancient times, when people worshiped the elements of nature and animals, rejoicing as the spring began. Also, the rabbit is the symbol of fertility and vitality and is known for "hiding" coloured eggs that the children must find, a trait of international Easter traditions that wasn't kept in Romania.Among the Christian symbols of Easter there's the cross, that stands for the crucifixion, which is the opposite of ressurrection, but it became the official symbol of Christianity at the Nicaea Council in 325 B.C. In Romania the most important Easter symbol are the eggs painted red, which symbolize revival and the blood of Christ. The lamb is one of the most common dishes at the Romanian table on Easter day and it stands for the victory of life over death. The little animal is sacrificed on this holiday, to symbolize Jesus’ sacrifice for mankind."Pasca" is a dish only baked at Easter time and it has a round shape with a cross in the middle. Also "Pasca" is adorned with dough on the side and when putting it in the oven to bake, each woman must say a prayer and make the cross sign. The legend of Pasca says that Jesus and his followers were visiting a very kind man, who put bread in their travelling bags, without them knowing it. When the followers asked Messiah when the Easter was coming, Jesus said that it will be celebrated when they'll find bread in their bags. Another vital symbol of the ressurrection of Jesus is the candle of Easter Eve, which every believer carries to church and lights from the holy candle held by the priest and given at midnight. Many Christians keep the rest of the candles in their homes, once they burn out and light it when they're in trouble. Passing from Christianity to superstition, it's known that one shouldn't sleep on the Thursday before Easter, else he'll be lazy for one whole year. If a woman is the one sleeping on that day, Joimarita will visit her, this legendary figure making the woman incapable of working for the rest of the year. Also, it is claimed that on Thursday the dead souls visit their old houses, where they dwell till the Saturday before Rusalii. Apart from being the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, Easter is a time when families come together and unlike Christmas, they’re not united by the “give and take” phenomenon that involves gifts, but rather by sharing the joy of the divine sacrifice of Messiah.

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