Easter holidays step by step
May was for us a busy month. It is indeed a month of festivities: Hederlez, the celebration of the End of Second World War (called here the “Great Patriotic War), and of course: Easter. This celebration is one of the most important of the year in Gagauzia. During approximately two weeks reigned an unusual agitation in Komrat. The first days of sun, the approach of the holidays and the preparation of the celebration ; all this gathered created a joyful atmosphere in the center of the Gagauzian capital. Under the appearances though, we could also feel that something deeper was processing. A kind of spirituality, suddenly sublimated by the festivities, and conferring the preparation process a part of mystery.
Eventually, is Easter first and foremost a religious celebration : it is Resurrection of Jesus Christ's remembrance and the culmination of his Passion. As for Orthodox church, it precedes a forty-day fast, and occurs after the Catholic celebration because of their refer to different calendars. Moldova is a secular State, but most of its inhabitants are believers. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 97 percent of the population follow the Orthodox Church. As for Gagauzian community, they define themselves as “a Turkish speaking but Orthodox-Christian ethnos”. Thus this period represent a lot for them. We lived the festivities in religious families (cf: making Pacxa bread) but spoke with people in the street from different background, especially youth. A majority of Gagauzian youth say to believe in God, but they tend not to practice as much as elderly people. (They tend not to go to the church every week for example). It appears though that they care for this ceremony. We could compare it with Christmas time in Europe, at the difference that a strong consciousness of the values of family and sharing animate the festivity.
(Thank you to Anna, Macha and their family, for their hospitality and joie de vivre !)
Part 1/ Making “Pacxa”
Sergio and me took some pictures and filmed our host family preparing the traditional Easter bread. We followed the 74years old grandmother we are living with from 7am to 20:30pm, from the leaf confection to the opening of the wood-oven. It eventually took a long time, because of the oven and of the huge quantity of bread baked. The process was also a occasion for the family to gather and get into Easter spirituality. We cleaned all the house before the event, and had to be quiet and positive on the bread's baking day. Otherwise the “leaf wouldn't be good”. There are a lot of people still doing the Pacxa on themselves in Gagauzia. In wood-fire oven, or simply in a normal one. We can also find this type of bread in the other Easter-orthodox countries, like Russian, Ukrainia or Romania.
Part 2/ Fair in Comrat's Dom of Culture
At the occasion of Easter holidays took place from the 2 to the 4th of May in Comrat's Dom of Culture a Fair. More than 25 companies, coming from Moldova and Turkey were indeed invited by the Chamber of Commerce (Director: Mikheil Pashaly). A preference was besides given to locals Gagauzian industries. Here, you could buy souvenirs, wine, fabric, meat, milk specialities, and eventually: Pacxa bread.
Part 3 / Church ceremony
The Holy Mass of Easter day occurred in the night from Saturday the 4 to the Sunday the 5th of May. It will last from 20 o'clock to 4am.
Part 4 / Celebrating Easter in family
On the following morning, we were given the chance to celebrate the holiday with an amazing Gagauzian family. He shared the meal, sung and dance under bewitching balkan music.
One week after Easter, celebrate usually people the “Small Easter”. They sit on benches and next to the tombs of their ancestry. The installation is often a permanent structure, which is only used for this day.