Marla Goodman Illustration

We spent Easter with my family, and then were invited for a bonus Easter dinner at the home of one of our Romanian friends since their Easter (Orthodox) fell a week after ours. We have two Romanian friends, both named Cristina, one from the southern part of the country and one from the north. Getting together with them is always fun and we get to learn about all kinds of Romanian traditions.

Easter is a big deal in the Orthodox church, with a midnight service, a candlelight procession around the church, trading of food gifts, and knocking special red-dyed eggs. Cristina made really cool eggs by boiling the outer skin of a red onion with vinegar to make dye, then using pretty leaves (held snug while dying with a section of pantyhose) to leave a white resist pattern on the eggs. They were gorgeous. We learned how to knock them properly and it was surprisingly fun.

One of the traditions we learned about was a custom where the men go from house to house the day after Easter sprinkling ladies with perfume in return for gifts of food and dyed eggs. Both Cristinas said that there is no point in washing your hair that morning, because you know it’s going to be really smelly with all kinds of perfumes by the end of the day. Apparently it started with holy water, as a purification ritual, but now is a chance for teens to chase each other around with the stinkiest colognes they can get their hands on.

Another Easter-time tradition we learned from northern Cristina is the custom of shouting rumors across the village from hill to hill. She said it was probably born of purity rituals: to encourage people to maintain their purity and piety throughout the year so there wouldn’t be any “dirty laundry” to air about them come Spring. The image of shouting over the rooftops stuck in my mind, so I made a little cartoon of it as a memento. I wasn’t too thrilled with the way my main characters look, but I think the town turned out cute, especially the pigs.

Happy Spring!