Myths, religion and symbols
In Romanian culture, the egg has inspired countless legends and tales, being thought of as a symbol of creation. Many artists were using this symbol in their works (we can mention here Constantin Brancusi who deemed the egg „The perfect object”). Now, in the Romanian popular tradition, Easter eggs are the symbols of regeneration, purification and eternity. They also protect the animals from their establishment.
In folklore, there are numerous legends which explain why we are painting eggs for Easter and why they became the symbol of the resurrection of Jesus. One of the most popular legends tell us that Virgin Mary went to cry for his crucified son and put a basket with eggs under the cross. The blood which was pouring from Jesus Christ`s injuries colored the eggs in red. When He saw this, Lord said: ”From now on people will make every year painted eggs to remember My pains.”
Another legend says that Maria Magdalena, meeting some Hebrews said that Jesus has resurrected. They answered: ”This will happen when the eggs from your basket become red”; and the eggs became red. Then, they threw rocks at her and they became red too.
In the morning of the first day of Easter people are washing their faces with fresh water where they kept an egg painted in red and a silver coin, because the legend says they will be healthy and lucky. After the prayer, they sit at the table and hurtle eggs, eat “pasca” (a kind of cake), honey cake and lamb barbecue.
Until the afternoon people are staying home, joking and laughing with all their families. “You are not allowed to sleep in the first day of Easter because the devil will come and steal your days!” say the old people.
Then young people go in the village or in the city with their friends, dressed in clean, new clothes.
Easter in Australia is celebrated with a great pomp. It is obvious that the tribes of nomads influenced the way that Easter is celebrated in Australia. The innovations brought by them were quite small because the Orthodox Churches there respected the traditional customs of Easter. In Australia the egg painting is not practiced, they make chocolate eggs. There are also some raffles were the awards are chocolate eggs. The purpose of those raffles is earning funds. The legend of the Easter bunny that brings chocolate eggs for obedient children was adopted by Australians too.
Have you ever heard about the carnival from Rio de Janeiro? The carnival is celebrated before Easter` s berth. The Brazilians are preparing the entire year for the carnival and during it they laugh, sing, dance and organize parades because during the berth they are not allowed to organize this kind of manifestations.
The Holy Week starts with a blessing ceremony of the palm branches which are braided in different and complex models, describing crosses, flags, letters and other similar objects. The streets are decorated and people are walking around the town holding some statues representing Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. In those days people are consuming a special food named ”pacoca”, served to any guest who enters the house. In the Holy Saturday, a small ritual about Judas' suicide is practiced.
Here, the last week, before the Easter fast, is known as ˝Semana Criolla˝ and every day, they celebrate in the center of the town because when the fast starts everything is going to be silent. The most sumptuous festivities are in Montevideo. Almost all the shops are closed, the entire city is decorated and the people are singing and dancing on the streets.
U.S.A. and the U.K
In the United States of America, Easter is celebrated in different ways because people respect different religions. In the big towns, people are getting out dressed in new clothes. The parades are usually guided by a person who caries a candle or a cross. Usually they eat meat, potatoes and different kinds of vegetables.
A common tradition is to hide eggs for children to find them or for the Easter Bunny to bring gifts, such as chocolate eggs and sweets. The Easter Bunny is a mythological rabbit and possibly has it's origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the spring season.
A tradition exists in some parts of the United Kingdom (such as Scotland and North East England) of rolling painted eggs down steep hills on Easter Sunday. In the U.S., such an Easter egg roll (unrelated to an egg roll) is often done on flat ground, pushed along with a spoon; the Easter Egg Roll has become a much-loved annual event on the White House lawn.
Belgium & France
Flemish-speaking Belgium shares many of the same traditions as North America but sometimes it's said that the Bells of Rome bring the Easter eggs together with the Easter Bunny. The story goes that the bells of every church leave for Rome on Holy Saturday, called "Stille Zaterdag" (literally "Silent Saturday") in Dutch. So, because the bells are in Rome, the bells don't ring anywhere.
Similarly, in French-speaking Belgium and France, "Easter bells" (« les cloches de Pâques ») also bring Easter eggs. However, bells in churches are silent beginning Maundy Thursday, the first day of the Paschal Triduum, as a sign of mourning. It is said that all of the bells depart for Rome and return on Easter Day bringing eggs with them to drop during their passage.
Netherlands and Germany
In the eastern part of the Netherlands (Twente and Achterhoek), Easter Fires (in Dutch: "Paasvuur") are lit on Easter Day at sunset. Easter Fires also take place on the same day in large portions of Northern Germany ("Osterfeuer"). Germans have an ”Easter Tree” in each house made of flowery branches trimmed with eggs or rabbits made of plastic or wood.
Local endeavor at Paltin
It` s true that everyone knows that an Easter egg is an egg painted in red because this color was assimilate by Christians.
We tried to pervade in the mysteries of this art, and now, when Easter is coming we planned a trip to the countryside. We left the city and discovered slowly the mountains, the artisans and at one time, all the Romanian tradition and customs.
Beyond the concept of “county”, we find out that Vrancea is more than this, it is a country on it's own.
We treaded shyly above time` s frontier and arrived in Paltin (old village from Vrancea). The villager life has it` s attractiveness for those who understand it and know it. Becoming brothers with their lands, they learnt the lesson of working hard, the justice and the fear of God, inherited from their parents. They continuously work their land, staying in solar heat, bearing the frost or the rain. They respect their holidays, left by God especially for them.
In the smell of husky basil of the school, all the people were busy. The boys were dressed with white “itari” (a kind of pants) made of wool or cotton, shirt trimmed with flowers and a jacket made of wool. The girls were wearing jackets, shirts trimmed with butterflies and golden fiber and special skirts.
The exposition of painting eggs is about to start. We sat in a corner embarrassed by the craftsmanship of that world. Counseled by the old artisans, the children were in a process of creation which seemed to cross the years for being in present.
We took our “chisite” (sticks with horse hair tied on top), the bowls with beeswax and the original hen eggs. Following the tradition, the first egg we drew was trimmed with vertical lines (symbolizing life). Also the girls used red color (symbol of love and happiness) and the boys painted the eggs in blue (symbol of trust and vitality). Then we learnt to trim the eggs with vegetal, astral and religious symbols. As time was passing by and the eggs were becoming more and more beautiful we were feeling the happiness of the Resurrection.
„He he, the eggs need patience and kindness, otherwise they will be smutty and „troubled”. If your heart is not clean, the egg will be smutty. When you are painting eggs you mustn’t fight because they have to listen to good things. Our ancestors said so...” - whispered an artisan. We tried to send away the stress and the black thoughts, concentrating on colors, because they are crucial in the egg painting art. We learnt that red means Jesus Christ’s blood, the sun, the fire, love and happiness; black symbolizes the wish to live; yellow – light, youth, hospitality; green means freshness, hope, fertility; blue symbolizes the sky, the vitality, the health and violet – the patience and the truth. The lines have the same importance as the colors.
After we wiped the beeswax with a soft towel we noticed beautiful models as: the astray road, the Virgin Mary` s girdle, the cross of Easter, the eye, the pigeon, the staircase.
While singing, laughing, dreaming we managed to realize some beautiful works of art.