Last weekend was Easter. Easter is one of the more exciting celebrations in Moldova because not only is it one day, but it is in fact a 2 weekends. The first weekend is regular Easter. This year we were supposed to go to the village to stay the night on Saturday with the host grandparents, but something happened where the priest decided to do the service in the neighboring village, and Grandma was sick, so we didn't go.
Anyway.... Amanda's host family invited me to their village for the "Roog" which is a tradition here in the northern part of Moldova. It is basically a big bonfire made out of old tires. Amanda's host uncle was in charge of one of the roogs (everyone can make their own roog, but most of the time families get together to make them.) We climbed up the hill next to Amanda's house and prepared for the roog.
Her uncle and other manly men rolled tires up the hill (which was no easy feat as this is a rather steep hill. I was cheering them on, but I don't think they appreciated it...)
The tires were lit, and the fire started! We sat on the hill for a couple hours drinking homemade wine and vodka and eating meatball type things. There were a couple families included in the roog. From where we were positioned on the hill, we could see several other fires throughout the village. It was really pretty!
Amanda and I were planning on going to church with her host family at 4 in the morning, but neither of us woke up when they came to get us up... While I enjoyed the extra hours of sleep, I really wish I would've woken up as I missed the church service last year, too. I've seen pictures from other people who've gone, and it's a really beautiful tradition. The priest goes around with holy water and blesses everyone along with food they will eat the next day on Easter.
After eating, everyone took a nap. It was great.
When we all woke up, we decided to go for a walk along the Prut River. The river is the border between Moldova and Romanian. The first time I went to the village with the host family, it was illegal for Moldovans to cross the border, and there was barbed wire everywhere guarding the border. Since then, the border has opened, and my family loves going down by the river and exploring. We found a trail leading down to the river and off we went. We walked along the river bank while the host uncle fished.
We walked around and explored for about two hours when we decided to try to find a path leading back up. We found one, but it ended up being a bit sketchy and we had to grab trees and hike our way up. It was pretty impressive seeing my 70 year old host grandma make her way up the trail!
We finally made it back up to the village. Everyone was exhausted, people were thirsty, and a few nylons were ripped; all in all a good hike! We got back to the house and everyone relaxed while drinking cold water and compot (which is a homemade juice.) We left the village around 7, and Easter Part 1 was over.
Tomorrow is Easter Part 2, Easter for the Dead. My host family and I will be going to Ukraine (which sounds exciting but it's only an hour away from my town) to the host dad's home village. There we will go to the cemetery with his sister and brother-in-law, eat, and be blessed by the priest. Monday we will go to Badragii Vechi to meet up with the host grandparents again and go to the cemetery there. This is by far my favorite celebration/tradition in Moldova because it is such a unique way to honor those who have passed. Hopefully I'll update soon so you can read about it.