Holidays and Traditions Archives

August 31, 2009

A weekend of Celebrations in Moldova

Last Thursday, August 27th was Ziua Independentie or Independence day in Modova. This year the country marked eighteen years since the country gained Independence from Russia on August 27, 1991. In my city, the day was marked with celebrations starting with a procession from the Primarie (Mayor's Office) to the bust of Stefan Cel Mare (Stephen the Great). Stephan Cel Mare is a national hero and led Moldova in the 15th century. During his reign he defended Moldova against many armies and is thought to have been vicious against all enemies of Moldova. He also built many, many churches throughout the land and is believed to be the champion of the Christian faith in Moldova.

The procession consisted of the mayoral staff, teachers and students from various schools in the city and other distinguished guests. Each group laid flowers at the base of the bust and the proceeded to the square where the celebration was marked with speeches and traditional songs, instrument playing and dances. The entire spectrum of the population of the city as represented from youth to adults.

Today, August 31st is Limba Noastra, National Language Day in Moldova. Moldovans are fiercely proud of their language and this is evidenced in their National anthem Limba Nostra. Here are some of the words:

A treasure is our language that surges
From deep shadows of the past,
Chain of precious stones that scattered
All over our ancient land.

Our language is made of songs
From our soul's deepest desires,
Flash of lighting striking swiftly
Through dark clouds and blue horizons.

Our language is the language of bread
When the winds blow through the summer,
Uttered by our forefathers who
Blessed the country through their labour.

Indeed, in Romanian, the words are as hauntingly beautiful now as when they were written as a poem by Alexei Mateevici (1888-1917).

The Romanian language is beautiful, musical and very pleasing to the ears. It rolls off one's tongue smoothly and beautifully and does indeed live up to it's Latin roots. It is a joy to know it and to be able to speak it.

December 20, 2009

Happy Holidays

I leave for my Brasov vacation tomorrow so I just want to take this opportunity to say a big "Happy Holidays" to all of you. Last week here in Moldova we got walloped with about three feet of snow over four days. Apparently this is the first time in many years that there has been so much snow here. Unfortunately there are no such things as snow plows plowing immediately. In fact, there are no plows in some villages and in towns like mine there are only one or two and very few streets are cleared. Sidewalks also don't get shoveled so I have had to walk in the street where the cars had leveled the snow. Needless to say, it's dangerous. But it is beautiful as freshly fallen snow is. I have been following the news back home and it seems like many of you are going to have a white Christmas too!

It somehow does not feel much like Christmas though. I miss home. I miss friends and family. I miss the stores and houses all decorated and light up with beautiful lights and decorations. I miss live Christmas trees, the smell and just the warm feelings I usually get at Christmas time. I play Christmas music but it is not the same. There truly is no place like home during the holidays.

I will be making the most of it until I am home again at Christmas. In the meantime, have a great holiday season. Be safe and healthy and good. Santa is on his way.

April 2, 2010

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.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to My Take on all Things Moldovan: A Peace Corps Volunteer's Adventures While Living and Volunteering in Moldova in the Holidays and Traditions category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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