On May 1st, my host family and I went up north and crossed into Ukraine into a small village called Dranita where my host dad is from. We immediately went to the cemetery and started to prepare. The graves usually have a bench or table nearby for this very tradition. Host mom set up plates of food along with some homemade wine on the table while host aunt prepared gifts for the departed relatives (host dad's parents and grandpa). The gifts usually include towels, dishes, candy, and toys. These gifts are for the loved ones to use in the afterlife. We hung out for a while eating until the priest came. Along with the priest were several men holding crosses and flags of the church. The priest read off a list of names given to him by people in the cemetery of the departed loved ones and then sprinkled holy water over everyone. After this, people give away the gifts to other people in the cemetery. I was given some dishes, a bucket, cookies, and a towel. The day was very nice and I got a nice tan on my face.
May 2nd, we went to host mom's village, Badragii Vechi. There we met up with relatives who only come up for this occasion, so it was great to see everyone. We went to the cemetery, but it was cloudy and cold; I would not be getting a tan face today. The same thing happened at this cemetery, too. The priest came around with the cross holders, blessed everyone with holy water, and read the list of names of the deceased. We stayed at the cemetery for several hours talking and reuniting with everyone until it started to rain.
|List of names of the deceased|
We then went to the host grandparents' house and ate. I had a few shots of homemade wine and vodka in me, so I decided it would be a good idea to give a toast in Romanian. Host grandma almost started crying and said she didn't even know I could speak Romanian. (I've been here for 2 years and she didn't know I could speak... hmm... I guess I'm just too nervous to speak to people in Romanian!) But it turned out well, I ate a lot, and the day was done. This will be one of the things I miss most about Moldova.