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Easter in Moldova

I know it's been a while. I am still here and taking one day at a time. It is Easter or Paste weekend and I want to share how it is celebrated here in Moldova. I will be spending it with my host family in my training village Vasieni going to church with them and celebrating their way, the Orthodox Christian way. I do miss my traditional way of celebrating in Barbados though. Today, Good Friday we go to church starting at noon for about three hours. The Pastor preaches based on the last seven times Jesus spoke while hanging on the cross - called The Seven Station of the Cross. We sing hymns like The Old Rugged Cross, beautiful hymns that I love and miss. I remember as a child it was a daunting day since it is hard to sit for three hours as a child. We don't eat meat on Good Friday, only fish.

Here is an account of how it is done here in Moldova:

Easter is celebrated at churches in traditional, all-night services with the congregation standing the entire time. There are no seats or benches in Orthodox churches. In the early morning, people exit the church and form circles surrounding the building. Each family prepares a display on the ground or in a basket which includes special sweet bread (pasca), red colored eggs, wine, sausage, and a burning candle. It is quite an impressive sight as the many people stand behind their candle-lit arrangements expectantly waiting as church bells peal in the near-dawn darkness. The priests and attendants file out of the church chanting and they begin the walk of many circles. The priest dips a branch of basil into a large bucket of water carried by a young attendant, and splashes generous droplets of holy water over the people and their food in a traditional blessing. Everybody is supposed to eat the blessed food first thing in the morning for three consecutive days. Easter Monday is celebrated as an official holiday. Adults exchange presents of eggs and pasca and visit their parents and grandparents saying, ”Hristos a înviat”(Christ is risen). Children visit relatives and are given colored eggs, cookies, candies and money.
For forty days after Easter, the greeting is “Hristos a înviat”/”Христос воскрес” with the response “Adevărat a îviat”/”Воистину воскрес”. On the 40th day, people say “Hristos s-a înălţat”, with the response “Cu adevărat s-a înălţat”.

Memorial Easter (Paştele Blajinilor)
A week after Orthodox Easter, there is “Memorial Easter”, when people go to the cemetery with food and wine to visit with family and friends and remember those who have died. If flowers are taken, there should be an even number of blossoms. To decorate, towels are spread on the graves and individual arrangements are placed on the towels. Each arrangement includes colac (special braided bread), a red colored egg, a bit of candy or mini bagel, and a slender church candle. These special arrangements are called pomană, and they are given as a gift to other people to remember the dead person with the words “de sufletul lui…” (for the soul of…). The remaining of this saying is that the people believe that the soul of the dead will rest in peace, having all that he needs in the other world. Many graves have a small bench and table for food and wine. After decorating, a small can of incense is lit, and the priest and attendants come to give a blessing. As the priest chants the blessing, he pours a dash of wine alongside the grave. The family gives him money and one of the “bread arrangements” which is placed into a large basket carried by young boys. The priest and his entourage then move on the next grave and until all have been visited. There is much visiting as people go from one grave to another with an exchange of the “arrangements” which are presented with prosop (a towel), and the sharing of wine. There are no toasts, and a person will often dribble a bit of wine alongside the grave with the words “de sufletul lui” and “să-i fie ţărîna uşoară”. The exchanges may also include a cup or mug filled with candies or sweets and perhaps even a bit of sugar rice. Afterwards they eat and drink and the celebration is continued at home.

The Monday after the Easter of the Dead is an official holiday.

For Easter we say:
Sărbători fericite!
Un paşte fericit!
Happy Holiday
Happy Easter.

Comments (3)

Sukhi:

Un paşte fericit!
to you too!

That was awesome of you to share how in Moldova Easter is celebrated. Thank you.

Pastor James send his regards and wanted me to tell you that you are continually in their prayers.

Please call or send me your number I really want to hear your voice its been so long and now I am done my exams. I sent u an e-mail I don't know if you got it.

Miss u heaps!!!
XXOO

liz Scheff:

hi
i just got my invitation from the peace corps to moldova. I was hoping i could email you and get to know about your experience there?
liz
escheff@gmail.com

Jessie Leone:

Hey, my name is Jessie. Like Liz I also just got my invitation for Moldova. If you could shoot me an email at leonejm@broadstripe.net that would be great. I would love to be able to pick a current volunteer's brain.

Thanks!

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