Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring is in the Air

Tulips are, so far, my favorite thing about spring in Moldova.
They are EVERYWHERE, and they're beautiful. 
Yay for spring!

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Week of Easter

I woke up on Easter morning (not at 4 am like the rest of my family as they went to church; I slept in until 10...) and was told to wash myself with the red water next to the sink. A red dyed egg was placed in the water and is supposed to represent Christ. By washing your face and hands with this water, you are purifying yourself.

Knocking eggs is a tradition here in Moldova. One person hits their egg on someone else's egg, and whoever's egg doesn't break goes on to hit their egg on the next egg and so on. The last person to have their egg not broken is said to have luck for the rest of the year. 

"Easter of the Dead" was celebrated the Sunday after the first Easter. The Saturday before, my host family and I went up north to a small village in Ukraine where my host dad's family is from. We met up with his sister and her husband, then went to the cemetery. First the priest and some men carrying flags and crosses walked the outer part of the cemetery singing. People threw small hand towels on the crosses and they would be blessed. 
Next we went to my host dad's parents' and grandmother's grave. Host mama and the sister began placing snacks, towels, and Easter cakes (as well as t-shirts, slippers, and candles) in front of the graves. I asked my host mama why they were doing this, and she said it was all for the people who are in the after life in case they don't have this stuff there with them.
We waited for a couple hours at our little spot, while eating placenta and drinking house wine. Eventually the priest came by with the cross-holding guys and they all started singing. The priest said names people had written on slips of paper, then threw Holy Water all over. While he was doing this, we were all down on the ground raising the baked goods and t-shirts up and down. 
As soon as the priest was done, we were free to go. We gave out our little place mat things to other friends and family who were around us, and they gave us some in return. I ended up with a small basket filled with candy. 

The next day we went to Badragii Vechi, the village where the host grandparents live. We went to the cemetery there where the host grandpa's mother is. The same thing happened again as in the first cemetery. The priest went around with the cross holding men singing, then started at one end of the cemetery and went to the next blessing people with Holy Water. 
I knew more people who were gathered at this cemetery, so I went around and talked to a bunch of people. As I talked, everyone was eager to have me sample their house wine. And sample I did! They also gave me their memorial place mat things, and I ended up with about 15 washcloths, 3 coffee cups, and countless amounts of candy and biscuits. 
After the cemetery, we went to the grandpa's house and had a big meal with a bunch of family members I'd never met before. We ended up getting home at around 5:30, at which time I went to bed and didn't wake up until 7:30 the next morning.

Thursday, April 1, 2010