Happy Easter!

Lining up outside the church to wait for the priest’s blessing

You may be thinking I’m a bit late on this post, but here in Moldova, Easter was celebrated yesterday, according to the Orthodox calendar. Most Moldovans are Orthodox Christians (either Eastern or Russian Orthodox) and for them, Easter is the most important holiday of the year.

Lined up outside of the church at 4:30 in the morning

The church service begins on Saturday night and lasts until about sunrise on Sunday. Many families and children don’t come all night, and come around 4 in the morning, when the service finishes and everyone gathers outside the church. Each family brings a basket with meat, boiled eggs, and a special bread called pasca and line up with candles, either around the church yard or along the roads surrounding the church. In my village, thousands of people come on Easter morning to our only church, so everyone lines up along the roads. The priest and some men carrying icons and a cross walk between the lines of people, blessing them. First, the priest swings incense at each person and then they walk around once again. This time, the priest splashes each person and basket with holy water, blessing them and the food in the baskets. Once the blessing has occurred, everyone returns home and breaks the fasting period of Lent by eating meat, eggs, dairy, and drinking wine (at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning!), which is generally followed by napping.

Our meal with the whole family

Later in the day, my host brother and his family and host sister and her family joined us for a masa (special meal) and to visit with my host parents. The meal was delicious and I always enjoy when my four host-nieces join us! Something interesting to note- according to tradition, only cold (or room temperature) food is eaten at Easter. This means the meat is prepared ahead of time and eaten cold, along with cold salads, etc. My host mom isn’t sure why, but she told me she thinks it’s based on religious requirements. Other families seem to make hot or warm foods now, but my host family does not.

Playing with chalk outside after our meal

It was a gorgeous spring day, around 70° F. After we ate, we spent most of the day outside soaking up the sun while the grand-daughters played. In the evening, they headed back to their homes (though one of the host nieces stayed behind here for the rest of the Easter break).