Celebrating Paști in Moldova

“Paste Ferecit” (Happy Easter!) from Moldova! We celebrated Orthodox Easter today in Moldova. This is my 2nd Easter here and continues to be my most favorite holiday celebrated in Moldova.

Leading up to Easter Sunday, people spend the week preparing food and cleaning their homes. I was able to help my host mom a little bit with some of the food preparations and learned a few new things as well.

On Saturday I went out on an adventure to the city center piata to find and purchase “pasca”,  a special Easter bread sold at this time of year. I quickly learned there are various types, sizes, and flavors of pasca, making my seemingly easy task a little more challenging. Plus, the vendors I tried to talk with only spoke Russian and we played a great game of charades between Romanian and Russian so I could successfully come home with some pasca bread.

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Special pasca Easter bread sold outside by a vendor in the city center.

Then, Easter morning my host dad and I woke up at 5:00 AM to make our way to the Orthodox church in the city center.

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St. Nicholai church in the city center, about a 15 minute walk from our home.

We got in line with everyone else and my host dad arranged the basket of food on the ground so that the priest would come by and bless it. While he did that, I made my way into the church to place a candle in the church and to return with a lit candle. The fire from the candles originated from Jerusalem, which we later carried home with us to keep it going in the apartment.

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After the basket of food was displayed with the lit candles, we waited for the priest to come and bless it.

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We waited along with everyone else in the quietness of the morning as the sun was bursting through the sky to start the day.

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Then, shortly after that, the priest came by and doused us and the display of food with holy water. Before doing so, money is placed in the bag that the first guy is holding while the second guy holds the bucket of holy water for the priest as he blesses each person in line with a generous amount of holy water.

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He caught me by surprise and even “blessed” my cell phone in the process. My host dad and I had a good laugh about it all.

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My host dad after being blessed by the priest.

After that, we packed up our basket of food and returned home to have the first meal of the day. But we couldn’t eat until we took part in the annual Easter cultural traditions. First stepping on the knife in the doorway before entering the rest of the way into the home. Next, we each washed our hands in the basin then rubbed a red egg on our cheeks followed by some coins which we rubbed on our foreheads. Then we each put the coins into our pockets for good luck and lots of money for the year ahead.

Then we sat down around 6:00 AM to have our fist meal of the day starting off with traditional red hard boiled eggs. We each took turns initially cracking each other’s egg to see which one would not crack in the end. The person’s egg whose doesn’t crack is the “winner” – my host mom won this year.

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We sat down to first eat the foods that had been blessed at the church along with some of the food that had been prepared the day before. We also started drinking cognac and wine in celebration of the Easter holiday.  So. much. food.

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Just some of the food from our Easter breakfast.

After eating, we all went back to bed to wake up to repeat the eating, drinking, and sleeping at least 2 more times.

The celebrations will continue into tomorrow as most people have the day off work and into the weekend following celebrating memorial Easter.

 

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