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Orthodox Easter

Orthodox Easter 2018 and 2019

In Romania, Easter is celebrated according to the Julian Calendar used by the Eastern Orthodox Church rather than on the date used in Catholic, Protestant, and other Western churches, which use the Gregorian Calendar. “Orthodox Easter” often, but not always, occurs a little later in the year than does “non-Orthodox Easter.”

YearDateDayHoliday
20188 AprSunOrthodox Easter Sunday
9 AprMonOrthodox Easter Monday
201928 AprSunOrthodox Easter Sunday
29 AprMonOrthodox Easter Monday
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Orthodox Easter is followed in 23 other countries besides Romania, including Russia, Greece, and the neighbouring states of Ukraine and Bulgaria. In all, about 250 million people celebrate Orthodox Easter every year all around the world.

In Romania, both Orthodox Easter Day and Orthodox Easter Monday are public holidays. There is actually dispute among Orthodox Christians themselves about the date of Easter, besides between Orthodox and non-Orthodox. “New Calendarists” use a revised version of the Julian calendar, while “Old Calendarists” use the traditional Julian calendar. The New Calendarists attempt to better align the date of Easter with non-Orthodox traditions, and the World Council of Churches even tried to solve the “problem” in 1997 and get everyone celebrating Easter on the same day. However, none of these attempted reforms have yet succeeded.

Orthodox churches in Romania use special liturgies during their Easter services, which are held all across the country. Families also gather together at home to feast and enjoy each other’s company. Easter dinner will typically include a spit-roasted, herb-spiced lamb as the main course, red Easter eggs, and various vegetable sides. You may also encounter “drob,” a mixture of lamb innards, vegetables, and spices.

Eggs are decorated very ornately in Romania, exquisite patterns being created by applying then melting off wax or by etching them on with a pin or needle. Red eggs, meant to symbolise the shed blood of Christ, are most common, but you will also commonly see yellow, green, blue, and black dyed eggs. Popular patterns include crosses, leaves, animals, and an eerie scene called “Lost Path,” which has lost souls walking on to Judgment Day.

Romanians sometimes knock Easter eggs together, in the belief that doing so ensure you will meet the owner of the other egg in the afterlife. They also keep candles used during Easter mass, considering them a symbol of divine protection.

One special symbol of Easter to Romanians is a banner that bears both a cross and a lamb on it. This is meant to remind them of Christ, the Lamb of God, who died and rose again to do away with the sins of many. You may well see this banner in homes or even on public display during the Easter season in Romania.

Tourists in Romania during Orthodox Easter may wish to take part in any of the following activities:

  • Get a taste of some Romanian “Easter bread,” known as “Pasca.” It is a kind of walnut pound cake, often with red Easter eggs baked into it. Look for cross pasca as well, which have a braided dough cross on top, and for pascute, which is a smaller version of the pastry made especially with young children in mind. There will often be raisins and cheese inside and sugar and cinnamon on top.
  • If Easter comes in mid-April, you can attend the National Festival of Easter Eggs in Ciocanesti. Beautiful Easter egg artwork will be on display, and you can also tour the Ciocanesti Museum to take in even more of Romanian culture.
  • From mid to late April, the Bucharest International Film Festival will be running, where you can view award-winning Romanian films for a full week. Alternatively, or as it may be, additionally, you can attend the Romanian Film Nights from May 4th to 8th, which gives you a good crash course in the history of Romanian cinema besides being entertaining.

Orthodox Easter in an ideal time to experience a wealth of Romanian religious and cultural traditions and to have fun while doing it.