Easter in Romania

For the first time in a few years, the Catholic and the Orthodox Easter fall on the same dates (usually there is a two weeks delay for the Orthodox one). So I thought I would share a normal day on Easter for a Romanian.

You get up at 11:30 PM on a Saturday to go to church. The priest holds a special service at midnight, celebrating Jesus’ coming back from the dead. This is when all the people attending light up a candle and then let the warm light shine on them and in them. In some areas, they circle the church three times, in others – only once. It is amazing to see this mass of people move at once – they sing and they praise the Lord.

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At the end of the service, there is bread and wine given to the people (donated by local bakers or shops). The bread and wine are blessed at midnight and is customary eaten on the three Easter days – in the morning.

At 8:30 – 9AM we get up again for the morning sermon.

When I was growing up, my mother use to wake me in the morning holding the cup and two spoons. I would take a spoon and she would take the other. She will start by spoon-feeding me bits of the bread soaked in wine.

“Hristos a inviat!” (Christ has risen) she would prompt

“Adevarat a inviat!” (He has truly risen) I would respond and eat the bread and wine.

We would do this three times and afterwards I would spoon-feed her back and repeat the process.

usually talking about the life of Christ. The sermon lasts until 12:30PM and ends with a song of the coming out of the grave.

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Orthodox priest holding a sermon, Marasti Church, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

After church, people go home and have their Easter Lunch. After months of fasting, the lunch is a banquet – three dishes (soup, main, deserts) – filled with goodness.

Hand-painted eggs for Easter - Cluj

Hand-painted eggs for Easter – Cluj

Just before lunch, we crack eggs. Yes – eggs. We don’t have chocolate eggs in Romania, we have chicken eggs, hard boiled and hand painted in all colours (mostly reds) with intricate designs. The egg cracking is like a game. You hold your egg bottom up and wait for the other person to hit it with the bottom of his egg. If your egg cracks or breaks, you will have to eat it. The winner will go to the next person and try again to break his egg. For six years in a row, my uncle had the strongest egg… until we found out it was made from wood. Now we test it before we let him play.

The meal is held with the entire family, boyfriends and girlfriends are invited too (it can cause a real ruckus if both families (the gf and the bf) insist that the special other joins. There is appetizer on the table (cold meats like deli, salami, meatballs, schnitzels, feta cheese, cheddar cheese, toba (this is a bit hard to explain – it’s like a terrine with jelly and pork meat). Loads of beer, wine, strong spirits and soft drinks for the children.

My cousin having a second serving of soup.

My cousin having a second serving of soup.

After the appetizer,there is soup (vegetable, light chicken soup, light pork soup). My aunt is a very good cook (no offense mom) and I can’t wait for her turn to host Easter in the yearly rotation. She makes cow stomach stew (“ciorba de burta”) and it is absolutely mouthwatering! We always have second servings!

 

 

My mother likes her meat a little too much. She said no to side dishes so she can enjoy this meat fest.

My mother likes her meat a little too much. She said no to side dishes so she can enjoy this meat fest.

The main course takes place about 1h after the soup and appetizer and is made of mash potatoes and meat. Loads of meat. Grilled pork meat, grilled chicken meat, warm schnitzel, loads of oily sauce to top it and so people don’t get sick, we combine the oily foods with very sour side dishes (pickled gerkins, sauerkraut, pickled cauliflower and pickled red cabbage with horseradish).

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prajituri de paste

I love the cakes!

The deserts are mostly ignored after the main course but they are made out of small cake slices (my aunt makes about 6 different cakes and then slices them up and mixes them on one plate.) My mother likes to make fake nuts and home-made Rafaello with coconut and nut center. All the cakes are soft, creamy and can range from vanilla to chocolate with fruit filling.

At about 3PM we retreat from the dining room into the other house areas – tv room or balconies and try to settle the stomach after all that food. Older people use medication for acid (Rennie & Metaclopramid) so they don’t end up at the hospital. We watch the news at 5 – with different stories about how people got drunk and got caught driving recklessly, about people that ate too much and ended up in the A&E ward, about people who have been so generous this Easter that their good deeds did not go unnoticed.
It’s family time, it’s a time to share and drink and rejoice.
After 5, each family takes its children and goes home. Me and my family return to our house and then either watch a movie or sit and talk until night time.

Here are a few pics from my family Easter:

Happy Easter!

Gallery

How Japanese Tourists take pictures

You can take a better picture if you’re at eye-level with the subject of your photo. Or maybe boob-level!

Why I hated the Noah movie

I read this blog post
Why Russell Crowe’s film “Noah” has touched my heart for all the WRONG reasons
before I went to the new Noah movie. I must say I was looking forward to a non-biblical approach to a biblical event and I was not disappointed. There was a lot different from the “original” bible version to make a few people walk out during the first 30 minutes of the movie.
I wanted to leave too, but it wasn’t the story that made my feet tap – it was the horrible acting. You would think that Russell Crowe can sell a movie on his own, but if you put little Emma Watson on the screen, you have a guaranteed recipe for success. I would say not…

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The story starts with the family tree recollection of the young Noah and a rite of passage interrupted by the descendents of Cain, the warrior people. I did not know that Adam and Eve had three sons – Cain and Abel AND Seth. Apparently Noah came from the line of Seth and the line of Cain was set on killing off all the other lines. To be the only ones left, I suppose… Now, Noah all grown up and with three sons, has a vision that the world will end in flood and all humanity must die. He embarks on a journey to build the arc with the help of fallen angels (that got petrified when they crashed from Heaven) and with the support of his family.
noah-movie-wallpaper-2014-1920x1200They use wood from a forest that popped out from a seed taken from Heaven given to him by his father, Matusaleh (played by Anthony Hopkins). Oh yes – once they see his father, they do not talk or visit him for at least ten years even though he was living in the nearby mountain. They only go and see him when they have a problem. They do not even bring him berries – and the poor guy had a craving for them!
Back to the story: they adopt a young girl (Emma Watson) that suffered an injury as a child that had rendered her infertile. She grows up to be the oldest son’s playmate and kiss target.
wUSV5WJThe middle son is suffering from lack of female to drool over so he bitches to his dad that he wants a wife. Presented with people in the area, he disobeys his father and goes in into the dirty sin camp to get himself a piece of tail..
He brings her back as the rain begins to fall and she gets trapped in a bear trap. Noah goes in for both but seeing how she is trapped and the mob of people desperate to get on the boat are trying to get in are approaching, he makes a rational decision and saves his son.
His simple minded son is stupid enough to allow an enemy to get on board and then to keep him safe and well fed for almost a year.
Matusaleh dies gathering berries.
All the fallen angels that try to protect the ark are killed and then taken back into heaven for their hard unpaid work and their dedication.
All the people except Noah’s family and one Cain descendant are killed.
Emma Watson gets pregnant with twins and destroys Noah’s plans of the human race dying off. He thought that if she was infertile and the other two sons would not be married, the human race will not continue and God’s Earth will be filled again with peaceful creatures. OK, in a normal world, even if Emma would have children, no uncle would bed the poor kids or use them for mass-reproduction. Then again – the story does not explain how the three sons (sorry, two sons) of Adam and Eve managed to procreate without sleeping with a sibling. Oh! The mutation! The gene pool!

Noah wants to kill off her baby if it’s a female and let it live if it’s a man – as this is God’s will. He looks slightly demented and I can’t imagine how 9 months of pregnancy would feel like if I knew that my father-in-law would kill my baby at the end of it. The girl and Noah’s eldest decide to escape the boat and try to survive on water (and maybe die there too) but Noah burns down their escape raft. This is when Ham (the bitchy middle child) beckons Noah down in the ark where his sworn enemy can attack him. His oldest son attacks Noah too, in desperation, trying to protect his wife and future children. Emma gives birth and runs up on the deck with the two girls. Ham stabs Noah’s enemy (not sure why?) and Noah goes after the babes and decides not to kill them after hearing Emma sing them a song.
Talk about a troll!

They go all lovey-dovey on land and Ham goes away into the wild (destination unknown). What a pile of crap!

Good parts: A history of the universe from an evolution standpoint (Darwin would be proud of the animation they made explaining the evolution from fish to monkey). The bad part was that the gap from Monkey to Human was not shown or explained, the humans suddenly materialized out of nothing, all shiny and golden…
Another good part: 5 minutes of amazing cinematic effects when the flood hits. Yes, 5 minutes. Sat for the entire length of the movie to see 5 minutes of special effects.

Bad parts: The fallen angels were pathetic. I mean they inspired only mercy. They were so severely handicapped that looking at them trying to walk made me avert my eyes. Kinda the same as looking at a man that has fallen out of his wheelchair trying to get back in. You would want to help but you don’t want to cut away their efforts of being independent. The same with the angels. You wanted to feel for their deformities but you could not offer them any sympathy as they would not (in theory) accept it.
Another bad part is the way that Noah’s mind changes without warning. He’s one religious fanatic one moment, a dedicated grandfather in the next.

Do not go and watch this!