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The ritual of painting  eggs,on Romanian Easter Holiday

Artur Gorovei, in his work Ouale de Pasti, Studiu de Folklor  “Easter Eggs, Folklore Study” 1937, claims that the Romanians’ habit of reddening Easter eggs is a custom inherited from our Pre-Christian ancestors, given the fact that this is a tradition passed on from generation to generation.

The proof lies in the fact that the motifs found on the adorned eggs, are a combination of ancestral symbols such as triquetrum, swastika, rosette (representation of the Sun and the Zalmoxian Cult), Christian motifs such as the Lamb’s Cross or the Easter Cross, the Monastery, but also motifs that are part of the universe of the Romanian peasant, such as cosmogonic symbols (sun, moon, lucifer, star), motifs from the animal kingdom (ram / horns, frog, bee, rooster, deer, swallow), motifs from the plant kingdom (fir, cherry, snow-drops, wheat, walnut, acacia, rose, clover, vine), common tools (lost path, shepherd’s rod, iron, plow, hay fork, rake).

Artur Gorovei also claims that a specific aspect of traditionally decorated Romanian eggs is that the motifs used never represent an object in its entirety, but rather portray the characteristic part of each object; for example oak or linden leaf, ram horns, frog paw, etc.

The design is made by lines and dots and the represented object is repeated on the same egg even up to eight times, following a certain symmetry.

There are four types of Easter eggs:

• Monochrome eggs or < merisoare >  traditionally painted red eggs, but they may also be made in other colors.

• Monochrome eggs with ornaments

• Polychrome eggs with ornaments

• Eggs with embossed ornaments

Decorated eggs are called oua inchistrite  / speckled  eggs.

Polychrome eggs with ornaments are called “hard-worked eggs” or “unfortunate eggs” because their preparation requires a lot of work and a special mastery of the craft.

The color used traditionally was red, but over time the Easter eggs were colored in yellow, green, blue, and black.

The colors were extracted from plants, this occupation being considered a true craft among the peasant women, who used plants, flowers, fruits, leaves and bark to color the canvases and threads with which they  would later sew their Romanian Blouses and color their Easter Eggs. 

The plants used were only harvested on specific days, usually holidays, which turns the activity of painting eggs into a complex ritual for which you had to prepare long time in advance.

The yellow color was obtained from cypress spurge ( Euphorbia cyparissias), mulberries (Morus), cherry plum tree, but the shades obtained depended largely on the time of the year, when the harvest was made. The rusty yellow color, for example, was obtained by foraging cypress spurge on Saint Ilie’s day.

The light yellow shade, was obtained from crocus flowers.

The yellow-brick shade -from alder bark.

Various shades of yellow were obtained from plants such as dogwood bark, onion leaves, dandelion, birch leaves, St. John’s wort, Elderflowers, etc.

The blue color was obtained from sweet violets.

Walnuts, sweet apple peel, wild apple buds, sunflowers, etc. were used to obtain the color green.

For the red color, flowers and leaves of sour apples, thyme, rosehip bark or madder were used.

The black color, was obtained from stevia root and the green shell or the outer part of the green walnuts. 

The decorating of the eggs is done with two specific tools: chisita and felesteul.

Chisita, is the tool used to draw the lines of the motifs that adorn the egg, and the felesteu is used to apply dots or drops.

These tools are used to apply the design on the warm egg with melted beeswax.

Once the pattern has been made, the egg is placed in the desired paint, the heat of the water melting the wax and leaving the pattern visible in contrast to the background color.

In the case of the unfortunate eggs, the procedure is similar, but much more time-consuming and difficult to realize because it is repeated depending on how many colors you want to use. Also, these eggs are usually emptied of their contents since they cannot be boiled because the wax of the different coatings would melt in contact with the hot water, the final  design risking to get destroyed.

The embossed eggs are made by applying colored wax on the egg, this wax being no longer melted. These eggs are specific to the Vrancea and Vidra areas.

After staining, the egg was traditionally greased with animal fat and wiped with a piece of linen, called a “petica”.

This linen was not thrown away but was taken to the Church on Easter day, to be consecrated by the priest together with the red eggs.

The sacred linen was kept during the year being used by peasant-women in healing rituals and enchantments, for various diseases of cattle or headaches, toothaches. It was usually burned with osier willow rot on embers, and the patient or animal was smoked with it for curative purposes. 

In addition to the linen, the plants used to color the eggs, were also kept for “shielding” purposes, these being given to the animals in their food for protection and health.

At the Easter table, eggs are still clashed by family members.  The ancient belief was that by doing so, they would be able to reunite after death.

These aspects of  Pagan-Christian syncretism have been practiced in various forms and are probably still being practiced to this day in some areas of our country, as a reminiscence of ancestral customs and believes, that managed to somehow miraculously adapt to the changes happening within the  socio-cultural context.

Although blamed by the “modern Romanian” and labeled as archaic and rather characteristic of the simple and uneducated  people, my opinion is that these practices should be proudly preserved because they have against all odds,  withstood the passage of time and are a portal to an ancestral understanding of the universe and of the world we live in.

  Bibliography:                                             

Credințe  magice Geto-Dacice :Iulia Brânză Mihaileanu.                                                        Ouăle de Paști, Studiu de Folklore 1937  : Artur Gorovei                                                    Egg art by Irina Apan & Dochia Roxana                                                                     *photos are taken by myself and from the folclore study Ouăle  de Paști by Artur Gorovei.        

Ritualul vopsirii ouălor de Paște

Artur Gorovei, in lucrarea sa « Ouale de Pasti, Studiu de Folklor » 1937, sustine ca obiceiul Romanilor de a inrosii ouale de Paste, este un obicei mostenit de la stramosii pre-Crestini, fiind o datina pastrata din generatie in generatie .

Dovada sta in faptul ca motivele regasite pe ouale incodeiate sunt o combinatie de motive ancestrale precum triquetrum,svastica, roseta (simbol al Soarelui si al Cultului Zamolxian), motive Crestine precum Crucea Mielului sau Crucea Pastelui, Manastirea , dar si motive ce fac parte din universul taranului roman , precum simboluri cosmogonice (soarele, luna, lucefarul, steaua),motive din regnul animal (berbecul/coarnele, broasca, albina, cocosul, cerbul, randunica), motive din regnul plantelor( bradul, ciresica, chiocei, grau, nucul, salcamul, trandafirul, trifouil, vita de vie), unelte uzuale( calea ratacita, carja ciobanului  fierul, plugul, furca, grebla) . 

Tot Artur Gorovei , sustine ca un aspect specific al oualor romanesti  incondeiate traditional, este ca motivele utilizate , nu reprezinta niciodata un obiect in intregime, ci se alege mai degraba partea caracteristica a fiecarui obiect ; spre exemplu frunza stejarului sau a teiului, coarnele bernecului, laba broastei etc. 

Desenul se realizeaza  prin linii si prin puncte iar obiectul reprezentat este  repetat pe acelasi ou chiar si pana la opt ori, tinandu-se cont de o simetrie anume. 

Ouale de Paste sunt de patru tipuri :

  • Oua monocrome sau oua merisoare / rusite /inrosite , vopsite traditional in rosu, insa pot fi si pe alte culori
  • Oua monocrome cu ornamente 
  • Oua policrome cu ornamente 
  • Oua cu ornamente in relief

Ouale cu ornamente se numesc oua inchistrite sau impestritite. 

Ouale policrome cu ornamente se numesc oua muncite sau oua necajite deoarece prepararea lor necesita multa munca si o stapanire deosebita a mestesugului. 

Culoarea folosita traditional, era cea rosie, insa cu timpul ouale de Paste s-au colorat si in galben, verde, albastru, negru. 

Aceste culori erau extrase din plante, aceasta indeletnicire fiind adusa la rang de mestesug in randul tarancilor care foloseau plante, flori, fructe, frunze si scoarte de copaci pentru a colora panzele si firele cu care isi coseau mai apoi iile si isi colorau ouale de Paste. 

Plantele folosite erau culese in anume zile, de obicei zile de sarbatoare, fapt ce transforma aceasta activitate a vopsirii oualor, intr-un ritual complex pentru care trebuia sa te pregatesti din timp.

Culoarea galbena se obtinea din alior, agud, zarzar, insa nuantele obtinute depindeau in mare parte de momentul din an , in care recolta a fost efectuata. Culoarea galben ruginiu de exemplu fiind obtinuta de aliorul cules de Sfantul Ilie. 

Galbenul deschis se obtinea din flori de brandusa.

Galbenul -caramiziu -din coaja de arin.

Variate nuante de galben se obtineau din plante precum coaja de lemnul cainelui, foi de ceapa, papadie, frunze de mesteacan, sunatoare, soc etc.

Culoarea albastra era obtinuta din viorele. 

Pentru verde se foloseau frunze de nuc, coaja de mar dulce, mugur de mar paduret, floarea soarelui etc 

Pentru culoarea rosie, se foloseau flori si frunze de mar acru, cimbrisor , coaja de maces, roiba. 

Pentru culoarea neagra se intrebuinta coaja verde a nucului si partea exterioara a nucilor verzi, radacina de stevie. 

Incondeiatul oualor se realizeaza cu doua unelte specifice : chisita si felesteul. 

Chisita , este instrumentul cu care se trag liniile motivelor ce incondeiaza oul, iar felesteul este intrebuintat pentru aplicarea punctelor sau a picatelelor.

Aceste unelte sunt folosite pentru aplicarea motivelor  pe oul caldut cu ceara topita de albine. 

O data ce modelul a fost realizat, oul se plaseaza in vopseaua dorita , caldura apei topind ceara si lasand modelul vizibil in contrast cu culoarea de fundal. 

In cazul oualor muncite procedeul este similar , insa mult mai anevoios fiindca  este repetat in functie de cate culori se doresc folosite. De asemenea aceste oua sunt de obicei golite de continut caci nu pot fi fierté pentru ca ceara diferitelor inchistrituri s-ar topi, modelul fiind distrus. 

Ouale in relief se realizeaza aplicand ceara colorata pe ou , aceasta ceara nemaifiind topita. Aceste oua sunt specifice zonei Vrancea si Vidra. 

Dupa colorare, oul se ungea in mod traditional cu slanina si se strergea cu o bucata de in, numita petica.

Aceasta petica, nu se arunca ci era dusa in ziua de Paste la Biserica , pentru a fi sfintita de catre preot impreuna cu ouale rosii. 

Petica sfintita se pastra pe timpul anului fiind folosita de catre taranci in ritualuri de vindecare si descantece, pentru diferite boli de vite sau dureri de masele, de cap. De obicei aceasta se ardea impreuna cu putregai de rachita pe jaratec, iar bolnavul sau animalul, era afumat. 

Pe langa petica,pentru leacuri se mai pastrau si  plantele sau galbinelele,  din care se obtineau culorile pentru colorarea oualor, acestea fiind date animalelor in mancare pentru protectie si sanatate. 

La masa de Paste ouale se ciocnesc de catre membrii familiei, pentru ca acestia sa se poata intalni si pe Lumea Cealalata. 

Acest sincretism pagano-crestin s-a practicat sub nenumarate forme si probabil inca se mai practica pe teritoriul tarii noastre, ca o reminiscenta a cutumelor si credintelor ancestrale, reusind sa se adapteze in mod miraculos schimbarilor de context socio-cultural. 

Desi blamate de catre « romanul modern» si etichetate ca fiind arhaice si mai degraba caracteristice omului simplu si fara carte, parererea mea este ca aceste practici, trebuiesc conservate cu mandrie  pentru ca ele au reusit sa reziste in mod miraculos trecerii timpului si reprezinta  un portal catre o intelegere ancestrala  a  universului si a lumii in care traim. 

Featured

Luxurious oatmeal face wash, for delicate skin.

This face wash is great for all skin typologies but especially for sensitive and mature skin types. Thanks to the oatmeal and kaolin clay,   it absorbs excess oil, and unclogs pores, acting as a gentle cleanser and exfoliator.

It is good for tired, damaged skin, it has healing properties due to its content rich in antioxidants  and antifungal effects.

It reduces scars, fine lines, hyperpigmentation and it soothes dry skin.

It has an overall brightening and toning action. Plus  it smells so  luxurious  that your mood and vibe will instantly change.

The recipe I made is for 180 gr < 3 small jars>, but if you desire to make a smaller quantity, reduce the ingredients by half.                

                      You will need : 

> a coffee grinder,

> a clean and sterilized recipient that you may close.

Place all the ingredients in the grinder.

Grind well until it has all become a homogeneous powder.        

Wait a few minutes before opening the grinder’s lid.          

Place the resulting powder into a jar , of choice, using a clean spoon.  

You may also leave it on, a little longer and use it as a mask, for extra pampering.

Storage: keep in a dry place away from moisture. If properly stored , it will last you for a very long time , up to a year.

Even my kitty loves it!
Enjoy the benefits of natural care!🌱

Featured

Chamomile face serum

This is  a simple yet effective recipe that will brighten your face and soothe your soul.

This face serum may be used during day time due to its light and yet hydrating texture. Thanks to the seabuckthorn and avocado oils, it  protects the skin  from oxidative damage caused by the sun and other  environmental factors. It also acts as an excellent face primer due to the Aloe Vera gel properties.The chamomile base oil , calms and soothes the skin, in addition to reducing redness, blemishes, and signs of aging. It acts as a natural skin lightener while promoting a healthy glow as it heals and restores its natural moisture content. It also increases the effectiveness of other skincare topical products.

Storage:                                                   

Store in the fridge up to 2 months max.                       

As usual, although these are very safe ingredients, I advise you to perform a patch test before use, just in case!                      

Featured

The magic of Spring Equinox plants

  

On the 20th of March, we  welcomed Spring and joined our Mother Gaia in her cyclical dance of death and rebirth. The long-awaited Spring is officially here, although some would say, it may still be dormant in some areas, where snow decided to fall in copious amounts, perhaps as a last farewell, until next year. 

Along with the spring equinox, not so long ago, in some of the villages from Romania , Hunedoara , more precisely, a region called , Ținutul  Pădurenilor, every Friday before Sântoader , an Orthodox holiday that would be celebrated every 20th of March , women would start an early treasure hunt. But it was not gold they were hunting for , oh no, they were up and about, head bowed to the earth, seeking for  two magical, precious plants specifically  Iarba Vântului or Apera spica-venti and Popilnic or Asarum Europaeum.  These plants have , despite their toxicity if taken in high dosage, medicinal properties. However it was not for these properties that hills would brighten up with hundreds of hunched, colorful  women. These two plants were revered for their hair growth benefits. 

Before Sunrise, women gathered up in groups and headed to the forests and hills, to places where they knew these herbs would be found. They would even take offerings as bread, salt and eggs,  to leave in exchange for the roots they so painfully extracted from the dry and cold earth, while chanting  :

 “Popelnice, Popelnice, / Eu îţi dau pită şi ouă, / Tu să-mi dai cosiţă nouă. / Eu îţi dau pită cu sare, / tu să-mi dai cosiţă mare.”

Popelnic, popelnic/ I give you bread and eggs, you give me brand new braids/ I give you salted bread/ You give me luscious braids.

Once they got home , they would boil the roots , and use the concoction to wash their  hair with it. Afterwards they would trim the ends of their braids and hide the trimmings into a burrow and pray to the Sântoader for thick locks and health. 

Iarba vântului was even more precious , as besides its benefits for growing long and full braids (a symbol of fertility) it was believed to be a protective plant, which, picked on this day, would act as a talisman against evil charms, illness and bad luck , for the entire household. 

In fact, it was so precious that every girl would have it in their dowry case. Apparently, the case had a hidden drawer split into  four sections where there was salt , so that the woman would be thirsty with love of live , earth from her parent’s backyard , so that she would be fertile like the land, conciul miresei , a head adornment which would be worn by the bride on her wedding day, and lastly, iarba vântului , the invaluable plant which the women also called Sora Soarelui, the Sun’s sister, the protector of their family and their entire household. 

Sources : 

Matraguna- O etnobotanica magică Leacuri și Remedii magice . Cornel Dan Niculaie 

http://arhiva.formula-as.ro/2015/1164/societate-37/iarba-vantului-19134

https://miscareaderezistenta.ro/obiceiuri-si-traditii/traditii-si-superstitii-calendarul-stravechi-obiceiuri-in-vinerea-santoaderului-49072.html

Illustration for Apera spica-venti from http://www.illustratedgarden.org/mobot/rarebooks/page.asp?relation=QK495F19H671801V3&identifier=0165. Public Domain

Illustration for Asarum Europaeum: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Illustration_Asarum_europaeum0.jpg. Public Domain

The ritual of making animals’Easter bread.

Pasca , is a Romanian Easter bread, with a sweet cheese filling and a brioche like consistency.  In Bucovina, at Easter, there is the ritual  of kneading the Animals’ Easter Bread ; an inversion of a process , Blaga called “The paganization of Christian themes; we are dealing with the Christianization of pagan believes.” For the Romanian peasant, the animals off the household are extremely important, because they ensure their main source of food and income. In addition to this aspect, they have  an enormous respect for them , coming  from the mentality that they “are wiser than us”, so it goes without saying that they also have their own Easter bread. The animals’ Easter Bread is done on the Holy Thursday, together with the regular Easter Bread. “It is made only with water and salt. Don’t add yeast, or anything else. Knead it and let no one come into the house until you are done. And the woman kneading it must be clean, meaning that she must not have any intimate relation with her husband during the Holy week. Then,first you make the base of the bread, then you put in the cheese filling . Afterwards you make a dough cross to place on top and knit it  in three. When you knit in three you say Our Father the Creed, all the prayers you know. When ready, you first place the animals’bread in the oven, while making a cross then place the regular Easter Bread. And again when you take it out you say something (prayers). You put it on a linen towel, and put it aside.  You take it to the church with all the other offerings, during the Easter mass and pay attention to it so that the holy water will touch it as well ,while the priest performs the food blessings. “Then, on Easter  morning, you break several pieces from it and give it to all the animals in the household, while saying Our Father,” And so God protects them from all sins and all evil. “


In Bucovina, de Paște persistă ritualul frământării Păscuței animalelor;  un proces invers celui pe care Blaga îl numea “Păgânizarea unor teme creștine; avem de a face cu creștinarea unor credințe păgâne”.
Pentru țăranul român, animalele din ogradă sunt extrem de importante,căci ele asigură  traiul zilnic . Pe lângă acest aspect mai intervine un enorm respect  venit din  mentalitatea că ele “sunt mai cu minte ca noi” așadar, este de la sine înțeles ca și ele să aibă Pasca lor.
Păscuța animalelor se face în Joia Mare , odată cu Pasca
pentru întreaga familie. “Se face numai cu apă si sare.  Nu pui drojdie,nu pui nimica. O frământi și să nu vină nimeni în casă până când n-o frământi. Și femeia aceea trebuie sa fie curată,să nu umble în săptămâna Mare cu soțul.  Dupa ce se dospește faci o turtită, și faci crucea pastii și faci deasupra aluatul și împletești în trei. Când împletești în trei, zici Tatăl nostru Crezul, toate  rugăciunile care le știi.  Prima dată se pune aceea în  cuptor și faci cruce. Apoi pui pasca cu lapte și ouă. Și iarăși când o scoți zici ceva(rugaciuni).  O pui intr-un prosop de in , să n-o deranjeze nimeni. O duci apoi la Biserică în ziua de Paște cu celelalte ofrande și ai grijă să  cadă un pic de agheasma pe ea, când face preotul slujba.” După aceea, duminică dimineață,se rupe din ea și se dă la toate animalele din ogradă zicând Tatăl nostru “Și așa le ferește Dumnezeu de toate păcatele și toate relele”. Credințe magice Geto-Dacice.  Iulia Brânză Mihăilescu.          

Dandelion biscuits

Dandelion /Păpădie  –  is associated with the power of the Sun. In the Oracle  of the Dacian Plants/Oracolul  Plantelor Dacice , Dandelion is referred to as a Teacher Plant  and a messenger of light; a healer and quite literally, a regenerative force.    If you want to incorporate this wonderful plant into your diet, now is the time, just make sure you forage  it from your grandmother’s back yard or any other  areas where you are certain  the air is  clean and the plants are  pesticide free! Always leave some for the bees and thank Dandelions  for sharing their gifts with you. Here is one idea on how to consume them,inspired by a recipe taken from.  “Dandelion Medicine: Remedies and Recipes to Detoxify, Nourish, and Stimulate” by Brigitte Mars.

Here is the link to the book if interested:

https://www.scribd.com/book/319491129

Calendula and Lavender Salve

Calendula or Pot Marigold, by it’s Latin name: Calendula officinalis , is an ancient culinary and medicinal herb.  It’s been used for centuries in Ancient Greece, India, Egypt and since the Middle Ages all over Europe for dying fabric, but also for its culinary , cosmetic and medicinal purposes.    
It has been known as “poor man’s saffron”  and used to color and  flavour dishes.  
Folk herbalists from Europe used it to regulate the  menstrual flow, and decrease  fevers by inducing sweat.  In  Romania,  it is used in a newborn’s first symbolical  bath,  for its skin benefits but also for its protective and comforting properties.  It is also a love, prosperity and a goodnight sleep plant. 
It’s associated with the sun and its energies.                                   Calendula ointments and salves, are a must have in almost every Romanian home.  This  salve recipe is a personal twist on a more traditional one , made with just calendula flowers infused in porc lard, over a fire source.

○Calendula has antifungal, anti-inflamatory, astringent and antibacterial properties. ○Avocado oil, contains a high percentage of vitamin E as well as potassium. The oleic acid also promotes collagen production which helps regenerate the skin.   
○Lavender is naturally antibacterial and unclogs  pores   
  
This Salve has amazing healing properties, it heals from cuts to burns, including sun burns. It’s an all purpose ointment,  being really helpful  during the cold winter months.   
Please only use good quality essential oils, meant for internal use and not aromatherapy ones, as those are not intended for your body. 🌿Always clean , disinfect and sterilise your tools and pots before use.   
🌿I speak and write from my personal experience & research and share my journey with love in my heart.  🌿It is advisable to perform a patch test before replicating any type of recipe, no matter the sources.            

Enjoy !💛

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