Pascha is the culmination of the relation between the human beings and God, it is the greatest Christian holiday, a day of the Christ’s light, as the Paschal chant also witnesses: „Now everything is filled with light: the heaven and the earth, and the hell!” People believe that through the Resurrection of Christ the heaven is opened for all the souls closed in the hell and it remains open until Low Sunday, until the Ascension Day or until Pentecost.
Customs, traditions and beliefs
Whoever dies at Easter and during the Easter week goes directly to heaven because all his/her sins are forgiven. People go to church with a red egg and coins in thier pockets, for wealth and rich harvest. When they get back home from the Easter service, they put a grass turf on the entrance threshold so that they can be healthy as grass throughout the whole year. At some places people put a basin with fresh water and twigs of basil. Those who wash themselves in it are going to be loved like basil in the days of Pascha. When the lads and lasses get home from church at Easter, they look in a well to be pretty like water throughout the whole year. There are places in Oltenia where those who go to church at Easter put a red egg in their bosom so that their face can always be ruddy.
In case of a storm, in order to protect their houses from lightnings, people burn the willow twigs from Palm Sunday, light the candle from Easter or smoke their house with incense or sanctified geranium from Easter. The Romanians attribute to the lit candle, to the willow twigs or to the incense sanctified at Easter the power to move dangers and evil away from their home. Even the dead are not forgotten at Easter. There is a custom immediately after Pascha their relatives to light candles at their graves and to give away red eggs, Easter cake and wine for their commemoration.
On the first day of Easter people usually don’t go visiting other people, because everyone wants to be at home with their family. On the second day, the newly-married couple have to visit their first witnesses, their parents, their brothers and sisters. The godchildren bring gifts to the godparent, sit at the table and enjoy themselves. If they have a child, the godparents cut some of his/her hair and give him/her as a present a hen, a pig or a sheep.
In some areas people cast spells and even make a whole ceremony in order to find fiances for the unmarried. At the night of Pascha, the girls who wants to be liked and woed by the boys takes her blouse sewn for Easter, a copper and three twigs of basil, goes to some spring, fills the vessel with undrunk water, puts the basil in the water and goes back home with the copper on her head, pronouncing spells. As she reaches the house threshold, she drinks three times from the water, as she pronounces spells again. In the Easter morning, at the third cock-crow, she goes out in the yard and pronounces spells for the third time. After that, making the sign of the cross, she says: „As the seeds of the wheat are selected from the weeds, may I also be more comely and more beautiful than all the girls! As the peacock is the most select of all the birds, may I also be more comely and more beautiful than all the girls! As the priest cannot sanctify water without basil, may the lasses as well not be able to start any game without me!“. Then, she bows again to the east and goes back to the spring where she was the previous evening, takes the water with her right hand and pours it over her head with spells. After that she fills the copper again with undrunk water and goes back home, as she is careful not to be seen by anyone, as she has also done on her way to the spring. At home she takes a big, new bowl, pours the water into it, puts three twigs of basil, as she adds one red egg, as well as several gold or silver coins and she washes her cheeks with the water, as she turns round the egg on her cheek-bones. In this way the girls is going to be with a ruddy face like the egg, comely, loved and attractive like basil, pure like gold or silver, she is going to have a lot of money throughout the year, the lads are going to give her the eye and she is going to get married soon. After she washes herself, she bows and puts on her new Easter shirt, after which she passes a live coal through it, saying: „As this coal is lit and alive, may I also be sparkling, and as this coal burns and is not stopped by the shirt, may I also be noticed and respected by everyone!“.
In many villages, grass turfs are put at the house entrance, so that those who step over the threshold to be “joyful like the field“. Passing over the turf with green grass at the house entrance is popular for most of the spring holidays as a symbol of reincarnation, for health, communication and unity in the family, which is also the essence of the holiday for the Romanians, as well as the unity and the longevity of the family.