Growing up in Transylvania, I was used to celebrating Easter two times a year: following the Catholic, Orthodox and the Protestant religion. Combining two Easter holidays was normal to me. It was the best a child could get from a public holiday. Maybe some will say "ahh, the same thing all over again", for what I'm concerned, Easter suprized me every year with another highlight.
There are a couple of things that bring the Catholic and Orthodox Easter to a remarkable celebration level. Starting with the great fasting period, the longest and challenging of them all, continuing with breaking the feasting time while preparing and tasting traditional lamb dishes such as the lamb tribe, going to the mess at midnight, surrounding the church a dozen of times to finally receive the "divine light from Jerusalem", bumping eggs – and hoping that yours won't get cracked – saying "Christ is risen" and responding with "He is truly risen", to finally ending the holiday fullfilled and with a more than replete tummy.
While those traditions are rather conventional, there are two that stand out.
The first literally brings in a freshly wet kick. Some Eastern European and Balkan countries celebrate the "Wet Monday". For some girls and women living in the countryside, the day will start with an unplanned shower. Men usually use buckets full of cold water to douse their beloved ones. Ladies living in cities are somewhat fortunate, they only have to put on with some bad smelling perfumes or water sprinkles. Wet Monday usually ends with a terrible mix of cheap scents floating in the air, headaches and an arduous wish for a (hot) shower. As a child, I was always looking forward to the "Wet Monday". Friends and neighbors came along wishing me to grow beautiful, like a flower. I believe I liked the idea of becoming fresh and wonderful like a flower. I don't have another expIanation for voluntary accepting to be perfumed with a variety of funny smelling scents. My perception shifted during my teens, I completely changed my way of understanding this tradition. I became disinterested, hide myself in my room, imploring my mother to tell our guests that I wasn't at home. Needles to say that that was the end of the "Wet Monday" tradition for me.
The second tradition has been elevated into an art form: dyeing eggs. While some Easter eggs are kept simple, in red, yellow, green or blue, others are painstakingly dyed and painted with colourful ornaments. Inherited from ancestors, grandmothers or grandfathers, the Romanian egg dyeing is inspired by architectural details, traditional costumes or cultural symbols. While Westerners only boil and dye the eggs, Easterners prepare them by emptying, washing and waxing them. After the preparations are done, the egg painter gets his creativity on: layer by layer, color by color, model by model. It takes a lot of patience, finesse and creativity. It resembles a mediative process, that goes on for a few hours, resulting a uniquely painted Easter egg.
How is Eastern celebrated in your country? Are there any unique and secretly kept traditions?