Sunday, 16 April 2017

The clash of eggs - Easter Traditions

Disclaimer: This post was published on LinkedIn last year. It's not there anymore.

Some people expressed their interest in the Romanian's traditions and customs, so I have decided to write a little more about these in case someone's interested. I had to do a little research (while people were asleep), I wasn't sure about some of the details you'll read in this post. Thank you for taking the time to go through it. It seems long, but it isn't really.


photo credit: www.agerpres.ro

Any country has its own traditions. Many are lost during the years, others change or modify, luckily, some are preserved and transmitted from generation to generation intact. Personally, I am very attached to many of the Romanian traditions, customs, and rituals.

Keep in mind that these traditions may vary from region to region, even from village to village or city to city.

In the post, Easter is here, I mentioned a 40-day period before Easter, called Lent. Both Eastern Orthodoxes and Roman Catholics people commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence and to purify themselves.

Partying, dancing/going to clubs or discos are banned. No weddings are allowed or celebrated, although no universal rule would prohibit celebrating the sacrament of matrimony during Lent.

There are many differences between Orthodoxes and Catholics (as we simply call them) traditions, rituals and customs.
The Orthodox Christians seem to have stricter rules than Catholics.

For example, the Orthodoxes will abstain from any food that comes from animals, oil and wine (alcoholics generally) for the whole period - Catholics will give up at the meat (mostly), details a little below.

Why is the oil included? I wouldn't know, it doesn't make sense to me. Hope they know why.


The Orthodoxes have a program to follow:
In the first week of Lent and Holy Week: Monday and Tuesday you can only eat once a day, in the evening, and have merely bread and water.
Only the Thursday before Easter, you are allowed to have two meals. All the other days, just one.
On Fridays and Saturdays = total fasting = No food whatsoever.
Ill people are allowed to eat food with oil.

But fasting is not enough to prepare themselves (as is strictly related to purifying the body), and it must be accompanied by good thoughts and deeds, sexual abstinence, confession of sins (to the confessor) and Holy Communion.



Credit image: www.rador.ro
Many Christians also add a lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional, to draw themselves near to God. But this happens during the whole year.
Roman Catholics will go to church every day (some even twice a day), especially during the Holy week, to assist various ceremonious. 

In the picture below, the priest (in this case the Bishop) washes the feet of 12 people who represent the 12 disciples of Jesus who were with Him at the Last Dinner (when the betrayal happened). 
It is written that Jesus did that for real.

Image credit: Adrian Cuba
Roman Catholics will fast too, but not so strict as Orthodoxes. 

The oil is allowed, and you can eat more than once a day, but never to feel full. 
You are allowed (if you want) to eat meat, fish, eggs, and cheese (milk). 
Fridays it's absolute fast, but if you don't fast, stay away from meat.
Ill, children, and elderly people (over 60, if I am not mistaken) are not required to fast at all.
These rules had changed over the years as my mum says that when she was a child, they were almost as strict as the Orthodox's religion. 
Nowadays, many Catholics give up only to meat, sweets, and alcohol. 

Image credit: Adrian Cuba
Roman Catholic's churches (I don't know about the others) remove flowers from their altars, while crucifixes, religious symbols and statues are veiled in violet fabrics. The priest will also change the colour of their vestments in violet. - Except for the Holy Week, when the flowers come back to the altars and priests will wear the usual Celebration's clothes. - I think is the same in England, Church of England at least.

Saturday night, Christians go to church with candles on their hands to wait for the Resurrection. They will then light them up from a flame which comes directly from Israel.

Image credit: Adrian Cuba
That's just a little information about the Lent customs.

Now, let's go to the eggs ritual which I find quite curious. There are strict rules to follow in here too! 

Because in Romania, on Easter day, people will bang the hard-boiled decorated eggs one against another. This is funny, really, so stay tuned. I thought I should call it, "The clash of eggs!"

An egg has three parts: the top = head, the opposite side = bottom, and the sides = ribs (?!). Yes, it's how Romanians explain this.

On the first day of Easter (Saturday after midnight), the eggs should be hit one against another only head to head. 
The day after Easter, Easter Monday, the eggs can be banged one against another head to bottom.
The days after, bottom to bottom, sides to sides, etc. As one wishes. 

As a general rule, the first one to start the clash of eggs is the oldest man at the table. This man would hit the egg's head against the other egg head held by a partner (child, wife, brother, etc.) shouting the phrase, "Christ has risen!"
The other egg's holder will respond with the words, "Truly, He has risen!"
After that, the broken eggs owners will start crying and wondering why their eggshells are cracked and the others' aren't. (?) Mysteries of God.
The person who's got the eggshell intact will keep banging other eggs until his/her will crack too. Then the banquet can begin. And the sickness follows invariably.... Too much food after a strict vegan diet! 





Why clashing the eggs? Because they need to be eaten, one has to take the eggshell of it first. Or not? 


Why would Romanians have these rituals and traditions which seem strange somehow? Let me reply with the same question: Why other nations have weird traditions? That's why.



This is all about the Easter traditions in my country but there are many others.



Cristos a Inviat! Paste Fericit! Happy Easter!



P.s. I don't actually recall doing this battle of eggs in my family, maybe because it's more of an Orthodox tradition. But my brother just confirmed that we used to do it too. Hmm...

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