Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 20, 1909.djvu/338
Roumanian Easter Eggs.
fewer still have been in any way affected by the spread of Western thought and civilisation. The peasant is therefore, intellectually speaking, very much what he has been at any time during the last few hundred years. He lives in a little two-roomed cottage with a verandah. Together with his wife he attends to the cattle and cultivates Indian corn, and his wife also spins, weaves, and embroiders in red and black the beautiful garments worn by the peasantry and now so much admired in Western Europe. The life is monotonous and simple, as, besides the alternations of summer and winter and seedtime and harvest, it is only varied by the rigidly-kept fasts and feasts of the Orthodox Greek Church. The most important of the fasts are one of six weeks before Christmas and one of seven weeks before Easter.
An Orthodox fast is a much more severe thing than a Roman Catholic or Anglican one. During the entire duration of the fast, no animal food of any kind,—not even milk, cheese, or curd,—is allowed, and life is supported, as best may be, on a diet consisting chiefly of Indian corn and beans.
But, if Lent is a fast, Easter is a feast indeed. Even the poorest Roumanian peasant contrives then to have new clothes. Cakes are baked, and Easter eggs with characteristic designs on them are prepared in large quantities. "Red eggs at Easter time" is a Roumanian expression for inevitableness, as Easter without red eggs is unthinkable.
There are many customs in connection with the exchange or the breaking of the eggs. If two friends or relations wish to break eggs together, the younger one holds out an egg with the pointed end up and says "Cristos a înviat" (Christ has risen). The older one then strikes the younger one's egg with the pointed end of his own egg, saying "Adevărat că a înviat" (He has risen indeed). Sometimes the owner of the unbroken egg takes possession of the broken egg, and in fact of all the eggs he breaks. Eggs are