Pentecost Sunday and Pentecost Monday is a very large celebration in Romania. Often referred to as Whit Sunday and Whit Monday, this is the last official holiday of the orthodox Easter season.
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Pentecost Sunday is exactly 50 days after Easter Sunday and signifies the day when it is believed that the Holy Spirit ascended unto the Apostles and gave them the ability to spread their teachings in all different languages.
Orthodox Pentecost church services are conducted on the morning of Pentecost Sunday and everyone is encouraged to wear red. Red signifies the fire of the Holy Spirit entering into the Apostles. After mass has been conducted, most people celebrate with a very large meal with their family and friends.
Throughout the evening of Pentecost and all during the next day, many feasts will take place as well as cultural events, including dancing, singing, and plays. Many of these celebrations will also combine some of the folklore traditions into the celebrations.
The Pentecost holiday is also known as Rusalii in Romania, especially in the more rural areas of the country. Rusalii refers to ancient beliefs and superstitions that to this day are still practiced at Pentecost.
In folklore tradition, on Maundy Thursday (Thursday before Easter) all the restless spirits of young girls that have died rise to roam the earth. These spirits take the form of fairies and similar beings and roam the forests and gather near pools of water. Their songs are said to drive men mad and that if you see one, you will suffer from insanity until you are cleansed of the vision. It is on Pentecost that these spirits must be returned to their true form, and special ceremonies must be performed.
A group of men dressed in traditional Romanian clothes and known as the Culusari, a secret society of men who are charged with the duty of fighting these spirits, perform a special dance to ward off these sprits. This dance takes place in the streets, in the yards of people affected, and in the city squares to protect the town. The dance is only performed on Pentecost Monday.
At this time, the Culusari will also help cure the sick. It is Romanian belief that the Culusari can make sickness leave your body if you lay flat on the ground and they jump over you, but only on Pentecost.
Other traditional celebrations include having walnut and lime twigs blessed so that they can be hung over doorways and carried in pockets for good luck throughout the year. Garlic oil is often rubbed on the outside doors of a home to ward off evil spirits on Pentecost, and people are forbidden to argue on these two days because arguments keep the spirits earthbound.