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March 29, 2018 By Fred Barthmus

Childhood Easter Holidays in Romania

The Easter holidays started in my hometown, Mediasch, on Good Friday, and continued through Easter Monday. On Good Friday we were expected in church. All I remember was the playing of our mighty church organ — the basses were so low and strong that you could physically feel the vibrations. Ever since, I have loved powerful church organs.

In the afternoon on Easter Sunday, we would hunt for Easter eggs in little nests that had been hidden all over grandmother’s garden. This was right after World War II and there was very little candy, and no chocolate. But we had plenty of hardboiled colored eggs — yet, we were not allowed to eat them because they were needed for the next day — Easter Monday.

A fun holiday every year was Easter Monday when we had a custom called Easter Perfume Spraying. The boys and young men would visit the houses of all the females of their relatives and friends and ask “May I spray some perfume on you?” We carried a small flask with perfume, and when the answer of the female was “Yes, you may” (it was always yes), we would put a few drops of perfume on the hair of the girl or women. The older boys and men would get a kiss as thank you, and all would receive a colored Easter egg as a reward.

We pooled all colored eggs into a large basket in preparation for the big event. Since I had two sisters, each boy or man visiting our house would walk off with two eggs, which is why we pooled all our eggs the day before, and needed even more!

As the oldest of four, my job was to visit all families and friends we knew, spray perfume on all the females, collect as many eggs as I could get, and periodically go back to our house to replenish the egg supply, which my sisters were handing out. In all I collected about 50 or 60 eggs, but when the whole perfume spraying was over I only had 10 eggs left.

In the afternoon came the time to play with all the colored eggs we had left over. We met with twelve friends in a vineyard, and arranged all the eggs on picnic tables. One of the games, called Zicken involved an inclined board, where we lined up each one’s egg at the bottom of the board. Then we took turns letting a heavy coin run down from the top of the board, and hit one of the opponent’s eggs. If the eggshell was cracked, you won that egg and could eat it.

Another game was for two people to knock two eggs together, and the loser was the one whose eggshell was broken. These games were followed by a picnic supper, again featuring egg salad from all the Easter eggs. At the end of this day, we could not see or eat another egg for weeks to come!

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