The COVID-19 pandemic did not deter thousands of believers from joining the biggest Easter food-basket blessing of the Carpathian Basin, held in the Szekler town of Csíkszereda/Miercurea Ciuc. On Easter Sunday, more than 3,500 people (there were more than 7,000 in 2018) walked to Csíkszereda’s main square (in the spaces allowed by organizers) and waited in orderly lines for the Roman Catholic priests to bless their food baskets covered with ornate tablecloths.
Pictures of the stunning effort made by both sides — the organizers and participants — to respect the latest pandemic regulations impressed even Minister of Health Vlad Voiculescu, who used the opportunity for a press conference to transmit a warm welcome to the Szekler believers who “demonstrated their sense of responsibility and solidarity.” He publicly congratulated the organizers and participants and mentioned the Szekler food blessing event as a positive example to follow.
Although no longer that common today, in the Middle Ages, the tradition of food blessing was practiced in every Catholic province. Székelyföld is one of the few regions left (similar to Poland) where the tradition of putting eggs, lamb meat, ham, Easter bread and salt into a basket still lives on. According to Catholics, eating the blessed food after a long fast protects believers from intemperance. At the end of Lent, on the morning of Easter Sunday, people confess so they can purify themselves spiritually as well; then, after Holy Communion, the priest blesses the food in their baskets. Finally, following the mass, families eat their sanctified food at home.
So, without further ado, here is our photo reportage of the event, thanks to our photographer, István Vajk Szigeti.
Title image: The biggest Easter food basket blessing of the Carpathian Basin held in Csíkszereda/Miercurea Ciuc. Photo: István Vajk Szigeti