“Now we can make the eggs”. I’m a child and this is the phrase I expected the most. In my childhood, Easter eggs were painted naturally – boiled with onion leaves, for red color. And I had also learnt from grandma how to make them “with model”. We applied a leaf on the egg, put a piece of elastic material on it, usually from some old stockings, and fastened with sewing thread. The result is like in the picture below. After boiling and removing the material, we used some grease to make them shine. Then put them into a wicker basket – I’m writing this text with that image in my mind and heart. We had color all over our hands, but who cared? The joy when seeing them ready was priceless.
Grandma was cooking – a traditional romanian cake called “cozonac”, baked in a traditional wood oven built long time ago near the house. We also had “sarmale”, a traditional main dish made with pork meat, rice and onion, covered with cabbage leaves. And “drob”, of course – a mixture of lamb meat, eggs and vegetables, also put in the old oven. Granny was making “malai” – a kind of bread made of corn flour and wheat flour. Festive lunch was completed with lamb steak and different cookies – everything homemade, of course.
We started preparing ourselves the evening before the big day. We had new clothes for Easter, new shoes and happy, grateful hearts. We walked 3 kilometers to the small village church, children of all ages, living in the village or just visiting their grandparents during holiday. At 12 o’clock, we surrounded the church and then “got light” – to our candles and hearts. After the ceremony, we received “Pasti”, pieces of bread with wine blessed during the Easter ceremony. In the church’s yard, we “bumped” the eggs – an old, special habit kept with so much love. We were also saying something, the approximate translation is “God is alive!” and the answer was “He truly is alive!”.
All way back home, talking and laughing, getting home when first dawn came. After few hours of sleep, together around the festive Easter lunch. Gradma’s hands, callused of work, sharing “cozonac”, her wrinkles, the almost holly light in her eyes. And some discreet tears, of happiness – for the chance of being together. I close my eyes, see her so clearly, hear her laughter, feel her incredible joy. We are so so lucky – for the chance of living those days and of having these memories!
We are living different times – unusual, I could say. I don’t think something has ever prepared us for what we are living now. But I remember grandma’s stories about the war, her brother died on the battle field, their extremly hard struggle for surviving back then and I keep saying that we have no reasons to complain and that we should be every single day grateful for what we have!
We are living in Norway now, my parents are in Romania, 2.500 kilometers away, and it’s coronavirus pandemic. But Easter is coming, and despite everything that’s happening these days, I’m a big child waiting for the big day with joy, gratitude and love. Physically, we won’t be together – but our hearts will share the same heartbeat, the same happiness, the same light and the same huge love.
So tomorrow I will paint the eggs – that’s the tradition, grandparents and grand grandparents did this on “big Thursday”. I don’t use onion leaves anymore, but mamma had sent me egg paint we find in supermarkets. I will make “sarmale” and “drob”, of course. It’s wonderful cooking for those you love. I have “cozonac” sent by mamma and my aunt.
Mamma will do the same, in Romania.
I have a very old icon, kept from my grand grandmother and brought in Norway, with me. So in the holy night of Easter I will light the candle in front of it. Dress something new – this was for luck, grandma used to say. I will choose an online religious service from a monastery and send the link to mamma, also. She has already bought her candles. And we’ll be together – we and our parents – listening to the same ceremony, lighting our candles and embracing our hearts. Feels like never been closer – so grateful, realizing again that we have God and each other and we actually have everything we need.
Grandma and grandpa, who are now “bumping” eggs with angels, will certainly smile. The joy of being together is untouched and unchanged – and this is any kind of celebration about.
It might sound paradoxical, during these days, but I’m waiting for this Easter happy and joyful. Look forward to painting the eggs. Cooking. Listening to the religious service. Praying. Trusting. Hoping. Believing. Hugging with my heart. Having tears of joy into my eyes.
Easter is always magical! Just look carefully into your heart!