News

Easter traditions in America and around the world

Story by Luisa-Maria Michiu, Reporter
Image courtesy of Tundrea Lorenda

Did you know that over 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are made each year?

Easter is a wonderful tradition that brings everybody together. This holiday celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Most holidays fall on a set date every year; however, this is not the case with Easter. Christian churches in the West celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon vernal equinox on March 21. Orthodox Christians use a different calendar (Julian) to calculate when Easter will occur, so they typically celebrate the holiday a little after the Western churches.

The exact origins of this religious feast day’s name are unknown. Some claim that the word “Easter” is derived from Eastre, a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. Others claim that the word traces back to the Latin term “hebdomada alba,” or “white week,” an ancient reference to Easter week and the white clothing worn by people who were baptized during that time.

In Spanish, Easter is known as Pascua; in French, Paques; in Romanian, Paste. These words are derived from the Greek and Latin Pascha or Pasch, for Passover. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection occurred after he went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

In the U.S., many churches hold special services on Easter Sunday. It is also common to organize Easter egg hunts. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection, and the week preceding Easter is called the Holy Week. During Eastertime, people in the U.S. binge on Easter delights like baked ham, potatoes, vegetables, and many other delicacies.

The Orthodox Easter traditions vary a little from those celebrated in the U.S. The Orthodox Easter is on May 1 this year. Easter is one of the most important religious celebrations in Eastern Europe.

The week prior to Easter (The Great or Holy Week) is used by Romanians to conduct all of the necessary preparations – cleaning, cooking, etc. On “Good Friday,” no work is done. Lamb and bread are dishes prepared for special meals. For example, we bake an enormous chocolate and rum-filled cake, which is an absolute delicacy, which you will find on every table of every household. This cake is called “cozonac.”

In Romania, we also put a lot of emphasis on the painted and decorated eggs. As Americans have the notorious egg hunt, we have a game where it is customary to knock each other’s eggs, and it is believed that people who knock each other’s eggs will see each other again after death. One of the most important colors used to paint Easter eggs is red, which symbolizes Jesus’ blood when he was crucified.

Saturday evening, everyone goes to the church for the Easter vigil, which lasts until early morning. People will typically gather around the church with candles and Easter cakes as they wait for the priest to bless them. It is truly a sensational experience!

For the next weeks that follow, people say “Hristos a inviat” and the reply is “Adevarat a inviat.” This translates to “Christ has risen” and “True, he has risen!”

There are endless traditions for the Easter holiday in both America and other countries; however, the thing that matters most is the unity that this glorious holidays brings us all!

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