I went to discover Romania, in the Maramures region, on the border with Ukraine, with my Catalina guide. I will accompany you to know Maramures, with its enchanting places unchanging over time, where the air is fresh and pure, the animals live in complete freedom.
Here the churches are built of wood, in the streets you can still see horse drawn carriages or strong buffaloes. There is a large animal market at Ocna Sutagag. Factories have been active for fifty years, life continues with an ancient rhythm in the middle of a vigorous green forest and strongly influenced by the orthodox religious rite.
The inhabitants of Maramures who came out of the darkness caused by communism have decided to make their culture known to the world. They are simple and friendly people.
Orthodox Easter is characterized by symbols and traditions followed by children and adults. One of the most important symbols is “the decorated egg”, symbol of life and fertility, is seen as a sign of the Resurrection. Easter holidays for Orthodox Christians are important, it is the most important period of the Liturgical Year, the Resurrection of the Lord coincides with the awakening of nature and calls for recollection and renewal.
During Holy Week the most important religious celebrations take place: Holy Thursday is considered the “day of the dead”, it is also called “joy of the sea” translated into Italian “Big Thursday”. During the celebration the 12 Gospels are read, one for each hour of the day. It is customary to offer in the Church sweets made with flour or boiled corn, covered with sugar and nuts, wine and fruit, all this will be offered in memory of the dead and distributed to the old and the poor of the country.
On Holy Saturday, towards evening, the whole community takes part in the procession followed by the evocative Midnight Mass. During the Mass, the priest knocks three times at the main door of the church, announces the Resurrection of Christ while the faithful hold candles that can be brought home without them extinguishing.
The Udatoriu (it is the best village peasant) is chosen and nominated by a joking folk assembly, composed by the men of the village. As they take him through the streets of the village with a cart, the musicians give way to the dances and even competitions of traditional costumes of this marvelous people of Maramures who live in a genuine joy for the whole day of celebration. What is striking is the smile of the people, their wisdom, their customs very different from those of the West, which show a harmony and balance that seem to disappear in our time.