Many of our Romanian traditions are related to the major public holidays like Easter and Christmas. The Romanian traditions vary from one region to another, but the main features remain the same.
If you’re invited to a Christmas or Easter lunch/dinner, be prepared to shake a lot of hands and enjoy even more kisses – on both cheeks. The holiday menu in Romania gets to be extremely consistent. In short – be prepared to eat a lot. The food preparation for holidays takes usually a few days, and most of the recipes are passed from one generation to another. Most of the time the first day of Christmas or Easter is celebrated with family, and the following days with friends.
Romanian Christmas Traditions
The Romanian Christmas is all about decorating the Christmas tree in the Christmas Eve, usually with cups of hot chocolate or mulled wine around. Listening to carols is almost mandatory. Receiving carolers that wander from door to door is also part of our local tradition.
If we are about to bring in the food matter, the pork dishes rule our Christmas. The most popular Christmas dishes are ‘sarmale’ (meat rolls in cabbage leaves), ‘caltabos’ (blood sausage/pudding), ‘toba’ (meat loaf), beef salad, pork meat jelly, ‘cozonac’ (Romanian sponge cake). All of them are mostly made out of pork. Except for the cake. We don’t add pork to the cake. Not yet…
Romanian Easter traditions
The Romanians tend to be more religious on Easter. Many locals go to churches on the night of Holy Saturday (Easter Eve) to attend the service of light. The Easter candles ceremony is beautiful to watch, especially as Romanians keep the Easter candles as a symbol of protection.
If we are decorating the tree on Christmas, we have to decorate something as well for Easter. And we decided that will be the Easter eggs. Most Easter eggs were being painted red (symbolize the blood of Christ shed on the cross) and decorated with lovely traditional motifs. Nowadays, we love the paint them in just about every color we can think of.
Romanians love to play egg cracking on Easter – each player holds a boiled & painted egg and taps his egg against the end of the other player’s egg. The goal is to crack the opponent’s egg. The first player will always say ‘’Christ is Risen!’’, while the second player answers with ‘’Indeed He is risen!’’. This is actually the way Romanians greet each other on Easter and shortly after.
When it comes to food Easter is all about lamb dishes. If you get to be invited to lunch, you’ll most probably have some lamb borsch, lamb steak or lamb haggis (called ‘drob’). Enjoy the local wine, and always save room for dessert – the Romanians like to have a good slice of sponge cake or sweet cream cheese cake we call ‘pasca’. As the Easter takes place in the warm & lovely spring, be also prepared for some outdoor activities like picnics or barbeques. Pack some light clothes and comfortable shoes ;).
Featured photo source: http://www.ziardecluj.ro.