As a continuation to my last blog post, yesterday in Moldova we celebrated what is known as Paște Blajinilor, Memorial Easter, better understood to be the Easter of the dead and is celebrated in the cemetery. Yes, in the cemetery.
Now technically speaking this holiday can be celebrated on either the Sunday or the next Monday after Easter depending on your village. For example in my village the older cemetery celebrates on one day and the newer cemetery celebrates on the other. However, my host mother prefers to go to the cemetery in her home town, the neighboring village of Izvoare, instead of in my village. I really don't know what my expectations were for the day but I can say I wasn't disappointed. We arrived in Izvoare in the early morning and went straight to the cemetery where it was very odd to see what appeared to be nearly the whole village inside a medium-sized cemetery. Odd in a way for me I guess because it is fairly unusual to see people in a cemetery at all in America other than when they are attending a burial and even then it is usually only a small group and the cemetery still seems empty and peaceful. This cemetery was very much alive and by no means empty. All around you could see people walking from one grave to another tidying up the graves and laying down some traditional gifts called pomană which usually consists of bread, a candle and a small gift (socks, a scarf, tea plates, i.e. knick-knacks). The idea being that sometime during the day the family of the person whose grave they are standing around will pick someone to give this pomană. While everyone is making their rounds getting reacquainted with their neighbors and reminiscing about those they have lost, the priest is slowly making his way through the cemetery coming to each individual grave and giving a blessing. After the priest has given the blessing and the pomană has been handed out then the family leaves the cemetery and heads back home for a meal or masă. Altogether, I found this holiday to be the most interesting so far mostly because it is the one that is the most unique. In America we don't really have anything that compares though I have heard from other volunteers that it is very similar to the Day of the Dead as it is celebrated in Mexico.