I know, I know, even my blog didn’t recognise me as its owner today and needed me to sign in. Total neglect would be the feeling it would have, if blogs had their own feelings
Anyway, I am back to say hello and enhance your cultural knowledge by informing you it’s pre-Easter weekend in Romania. Meaning that from Monday this week people in Romania have been cooking up a feast. Mentally and literally.
As a child I experienced mixed feelings during this week. I dreaded the Monday before Easter because my mum would have gone into a (totally uncharacteristic for her) cleansing frenzy involving lifting carpets, washing windows (with a mixture of soapy water and vinegar and drying them with newspapers until they squeaked!!), dusting every crook and cranny in the house, washing curtains…etc.
Tuesdays were generally reserved for beating the carpets. Oh yeah, that was waaaay before we owned a vacuum cleaner(by the way, she owns one now but she’s told me this week that she still doesn’t know how to use it…) and they had to be dragged outside and beaten into shape with a “carpet shaker.”(a plastic rod with a hand-like shape at one end). Aha, before you roll on the floor laughing, imaging me doing the beating let me tell you the work of carpet beating was not for the faint-hearted. My dad was dragged outside alongside the carpets, huffing and puffing and in a couple of hours the carpets would have been beaten, brushed (again with vinegar, we seem to love the stuff in Romania!!) and left to get the fresh air while we scrubbed the floors and primed the house.
Wednesday would have typically been “curtain day.” By this time the curtains would have been washed, dried and smelled nice and then it was time to get them ironed. Again, not an easy task as they weighed loads due to the heavy fabric and were terribly long (to fit the tall rooms). My mum would have been assigning tasks: mine was always to do the interminable ironing, my brother’s to hang the blooming things. My dad would have been un-draftable by this point due to imaginary injuries caused by the carpet beating sessions…He would have usually escaped the
chaos cleaning frenzy by going to the open air market to source fresh products like eggs and cottage cheese for the cooking in the days to come.
Thursdays things took a more religious turn. Because mu family was Orthodox and attending a local church Easter week evenings were dedicated to attending services. Thursdays marked the beginning of the festivities with the reading of the “twelve gospels”, twelve readings from the Bible, all related to Jesus’ last week on earth. Thursdays marked also the beginning of the baking/cooking for my mum, with the kneading of the sweet bread (locally known as “cozonac”). Oh my, I LOOOOVED Easter Thursdays. I loved the anticipation of the celebrations to come. The subtle smells wafting, seeping through the open windows, coming down the block’s staircase: fresh milk, raisins, cinnamon, cocoa powder…the magical making (for me as a child) of tons of cozonac that would be consumed in a few days by every living soul in the land till satiation…
Fridays took a more sombre tone. It was Jesus’ death day. There would have been a morning service my mum always took time off from her now full-steam ahead cooking to attend. A public display of sorrow for His death. Mournful songs, the epitaph carried out, covered in flowers, meant to soothe His bruised and bloodied body. Subdued voices. Silence. Intense praying. That would have culminated in the evening with a full mourning service that involved singing and praying. I still remember the tunes. The solemnity. The sorrow.
Easter Saturday meant cooking madness day in my household. By now my mum would have worked herself into a state fuelled by the late night cozonac baking, service attending and house cleaning order marshalling. Saturdays meant dying dozens of eggs. Cooking ahead at least a three-course meal for Easter Sunday. Changing bed linen so that we could sleep in fresh smelling, starch-pressed linen when we came back from the Easter night service. It meant a lot of effort for my mum.
A lot of effort that she thought went unnoticed. But it never did, really. We’ve always known she was doing all these things for us. Showing love through serving. Creating memories… And they will probably stay with me until the day I die. Or I get Alzheimer’s. And no matter how fancy or glam a life I will live, it will never be able to replace my mum’s genuine efforts to create living memories with us and for us.
I miss Romanian Easter. ..And I miss the cooking, the eating and the celebrating together. Maybe we’ll make it next year…