Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanta Ion
Floriile (Flowery or Palm Sunday) mark the beginning of the Orthodox Holy Week in Romania, which follows the story of Jesus since his entry into Jerusalem, when he was received with joy, flowers and palm leaves. However, this celebration is one of the juxtapositions of the Christian faith over the ancient Roman celebration of Floralia, the festival of vegetation goddess Flora, a gathering of fertility rituals and games meant to celebrate the rebirth of nature and the rites of spring. And it is a juxtaposition of an even older Dacian spring celebration centered on flowers and fertility dances and songs.
One such very old custom, after Christianity became the use of willow leaves to purify the body, the household, the animals and the fields. Before the Florii Sunday, the Lazarus Saturday, being part of the story of Lazarus being resurrected by Jesus from his grave, replaces an older celebration of the vegetation god being resurrected each spring. As a combination of both, on that Saturday, Romanians take willow branches to church to be sanctified by a priest, and on Florii Sunday, the willow, an immortality symbol in many cultures, is set to decorate the house, entrances, graves, animal sheds, fields and the beehives (for a good honey harvest). Tradition says that the willow branches are to be kept in the house, for protection, until the next Florii Sunday.
In the city, it becomes a beautiful Sunday when you see people carrying willow branches and flowers and is also the day when approximately 1,5 million Romanians who bear flower names celebrate their name day.
This is also the weekend where many traditional fairs are taking place all around the country, and in Bucharest, one such fair is the Florii Fair at one of the most distinguished and beautiful museums, the Romanian Peasant Museum, where we can usually find a gathering of traditions in many fairs throughout the year, corresponding to major celebrations. The Florii Fair brings about traditional craftsmen from all over the country, and it is always a pleasure for me to visit this fair to stroll among the beautifully crafted objects and culinary delicacies and to interact with the craftsmen
One gorgeous inclusion in any peasant fair that you can find at the Florii fair as well are the intricately decorated ii (the Romanian blouse), textiles such as table cloths, napkins, towels, carpets and other various beauties, where each region can be recognized by their specific embroidery motives and the regional folk costume.
The beloved pottery makes so hard to choose a new addition, but my sister made some excellent choices :)
Of course, one of the most impressive items would be the famous Romanian painted Easter eggs! Each color has a symbolic meaning: red is vitality and power of life, black is immortality, yellow is the sun, blue is the sky and green is the rejuvenated nature.
It would be hard to pass by and ignore the sweets and candies. Childhood sweets like homemade lollipops and traditional bunny gingerbread, all sorts of honey and honey products, wines and oils, cozonac (the traditional Easter cake) and my favorites, which became an addition to our Palm Sunday meal, layered cakes from Maramures. (So hard to choose which one to take home, seeing them waiting patiently in the freezer).
This is not a fair to leave without the liquid gold of honeycomb. The best way to eat honeycomb is to chew it as much as possible and to slowly ingest the beeswax as well, during the process, little by little. Among its many, many health benefits as a superfood, this ritual alone is one of the most powerful anti-allergenic remedies.
A typical Florii Sunday meal
The tradition on Florii is to eat fish and fish products. During the 40 days Easter Orthodox fastening, this would be a day that gives a permission to eat fish (since the fastening is exclusively vegan). The fish as you know is a major symbol of Christianity, in connection to the feeding of multitude by Jesus, the Ichthys and the fish as symbol of the "fisher of men" and as universal symbol of faith and the spirit, in connection to the water element.
On Florii Sunday, the table will be decorated with flowers and willow branches, spring greens and fresh fruit. There are hardly any local fruits at this time of year, other than the superb strawberries, that are just at the start of their season. Usually, the meal opens with a few traditional appetizers, vegan for those who keep the fastening, if not, tarama, for which we discussed a recipe here, would be a must. This time, I prepared the traditional Romanian tarama, which is made of carp roe or a mixture of carp and pike roe (as I did here), served with chopped green or golden onion.
The main course is a good fish, baked, barbecued or fried, usually carp, and the most common traditional meal is fresh fried carp with boiled potatoes, lots of lemon or mujdei, and a salad made of the local greens joyfully joining the markets at this time of year: green onion and green garlic, spinach, stevia, celandine, ramsons, chervil and radish.
Palm Sunday carp with buttery potatoes
This is a very simple and healthy recipe that puts you in touch with a traditional Romanian meal on one of the most beloved celebrations in Romania.
INGREDIENTS (for 6 servings)
One fresh carp
As much potatoes as you want
For the fried fish
If you prefer, you can grill the fish, but the traditional cooking method is cutting the fish in big chunks, flouring them a little on each side and frying them in a pan with a little vegetable oil, on lower heat so that the meat is cooked inside (usually fried for about 15 minutes).
For the buttery potatoes
The traditional method is dicing the potatoes in cubes and boiling them in mildly salty water, until soft when pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes from the hot water and place them in a pot, adding 2 cubes of butter, salt, pepper and chopped parsley. Mix it all well, to cover all potatoes with the butter. Before serving, you can reheat them to get a little crust from the butter. It is not necessary however, and it is healthier to just serve them boiled, steaming hot.
For the salad
This salad is meant to gather all local greens, as enjoyment of spring, rejuvenation of nature and people, both healthy and symbolical. If you do not have the mentioned greens, just use the local sprouts that come to your markets as early spring culinary wonders.
Mix the greens with olive oil and lemon and serve very fresh.
We liked everything so far (I hope!), but now comes the favorite part: the traditional sweets. Homemade with farm products. Cozonac (traditional sweet bread with lots and lots and lots of walnuts). Yummy chocolate salami. And the most delicious layered cake ever, the honey cake: it has honey dough layers and it is filled with white buttery cream and homemade apricot jam.
For those who celebrate Easter today, Happy Easter! Also, Happy Fool's Day :D And LA MULŢI ANI for all the flower people of Romania!
A melting pot experience, in more than one way. Welcome to our Epicurean adventure!