Stefan turned on the bedroom light and woke me from sleep. "Let's go!", he whispered, as I buried my face snug in my blanket. I understood it was Easter morning and we were going to the church to have our baskets of food blessed. I rose swiftly from my silky sanctuary and wiggled my bare toes into fleece slippers. A green chiffon scarf draped over the bedroom mirror and I noticed dark circles under my eyes. I wasn't ready for the day to start at 4 AM, but I didn't want to miss this opportunity.
After a quick freshen up in the bathroom, I slipped on my boots, black pants, and leather jacket. Ladies should be covered in the Orthodox church. I wrapped the olive colored scarf around my head, as Stefan packed our basket with hardboiled eggs (painted blood red), meat cutlets, sliced cheese, fresh-baked cookies, and a dry traditional cake.
Four hours in to a service that started at midnight, I thought we would be part of the small few rushing through the village to make it for the final blessing. A pathway of candlelit baskets overwhelmed the Church yard. Hundreds of people lined up outside the doors, as the inside was at capacity. Stefan widened his eyeballs, as my lip lowered in shock. He pulled a bundle of wax candle sticks out of his pocket. We placed one in the center of our Easter cake and each held one in our hands. For two hours, the crowd grew, wax dripped onto the pavement, flames ceased, and the sun rose. Finally, bells sang and the service was let out of the Church. The priest dressed in a cloak of red and gold, greeted every family outside with a doused blessing of holy water. A choir followed in his footsteps.
Our Easter celebration would resume at 11 AM. We hurried back to casa Frunze with grins on our faces, knowing we could cuddle up in bed and sleep for a few more hours.
Before noon, the feast on the kitchen table was half eaten and we were three shots of wine in. Moldovan wine is homemade and served in a hand-painted, ceramic pitcher. The sweet and strong liquid is poured into a clear, tremendous shot glass. A toast is given and the wine is swallowed in one sip. Hardboiled eggs are painted red in resemblance of Jesus's blood. Each person grabs an egg and smashes it into a partner's egg, why saying Christos Anviat! (happy Easter). The person with the cracked egg, looses. Which is nothing to be upset about, because most likely, the loser takes a shot of wine! We enjoyed laughter and translated stories with the in-laws, godparents, and neighbors. Some people took naps around 3 PM, in preparation for the party number two.
We walked down a dirt path onto a gorgeous view of the bouldering countryside. We stopped to say hello to a cow and continued on to Stefan's cousin's house at the bottom of the hill. We consumed more food and wine until we couldn't any more. On our walk home, we heard parties echoing throughout the village. We knew people would be dancing and chanting their native expressions until the morning. The sense of community, family, and love were strong on this day. It feels impossible to capture the moments shared, but I am in love with the energy my family in Moldova stands for and I miss them.
Check out our brief video clip of the closing ceremony at the Easter Blessing!
Written with love,