Monthly Archives: March 2014

Visiting Maramureş: The Merry Cemetery

Before I even came to Romania, I was looking forward to visiting the Merry Cemetery. Tina told me about it and I got so excited! She just didn’t know exactly where it was, so I didn’t either.

While we were in Maramureş, we had the opportunity to go the Merry Cemetery in Săpânţa, which was my favorite part of the trip! I was looking forward to it because Tina had told me that it was a cemetery where the tombstones had pictures of how the person had died, and also that it was colorful and beautiful. I was definitely not disappointed.

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I have learned that Romanians tend to be very religious. Our tour guide told us that “if the priest asks people to give money to the church, they give more than he asks for. But then they are asked to give money to fix the roads, and nobody gives anything.”

The Merry Cemetery has blue tombstones, symbolic of heaven and hell both being in the sky, which is blue. The blue color of the tombstones characterizes the religious devotion of most Romanians.

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 The colorful atmosphere of the Merry Cemetery strays from the traditional view of death as something solemn. Instead, it views death as something to be welcome, leading you to another life.

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While in Maramureş, I noticed that intricate and detailed woodwork is very popular, and I also had the opportunity to visit Teodor, a local woodcarver. The tombstones here are made of wood, and each of them has a picture of the deceased at the top.

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If the person died in an accident, then the picture is of how they died.

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If they didn’t die due to an accident, then a major event of their life, or their occupation, is depicted.

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This is the tombstone of the man that started the Merry Cemetery:

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The tombstone is carved by a wood carver that lives in the village (similar to Teodor, whom we met) that the deceased is from.

At the bottom of the long with an epitaph that is either humorous or informative of the person’s life. The family does not choose what is put in the epitaph – that is the wood carver’s decision. The tight-knit culture of the small villages in this area is displayed in the fact that the family never objects to what the local wood carver writes on the tombstones. Everyone in the village knows one another, and they know that what it says is true.

And this one is right next to the creator’s. It is his mother-in-law. This is an example of the humorous epitaphs:

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Romanian:
Sub aceasta cruce grea
Zace biata soacra-mea
Trei zile de mai traia
Zaceam eu si cetea ea.
Voi care treceti pa aici
Incercati sa n-o treziti
Ca acasa daca vine
Iarai cu gura pa mine
Da asa eu m-oi purta
Ca-napoi n-a inturna
Stai aicea draga soacra-mea
English:
Under this heavy cross
Lies my poor mother in-law
Three more days she would have lived
I would lie, and she would read (this cross).
You, who here are passing by
Not to wake her up please try
Cause’ if she comes back home
She’ll criticise me more.
But I will surely behave
So she’ll not return from grave.
Stay here, my dear mother in-law!

 

Here is my one of my favorites – a teacher!

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The church was under construction.

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There was a service going on inside, so we stepped inside and saw, but didn’t feel it was appropriate to take pictures. But we did get a picture of some people in traditional Romanian clothing before they went into the church!

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Here are some other ones:

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I am currently working on translating some of the tombstones on my own. The translation above our tour guide told us, and then I found it online. However, I took pictures of the ones I really want to translate. It is hard, but I’m getting there!

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As Hannah said, I was probably the most excited tourist that the Merry Cemetery has ever encountered!

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Best Croutons Ever

There was this one time when I made croutons…OK, I’ve made them like 5 times. They are so good. 

About a year ago, my friend Trish gave me the crouton recipe that she uses, and I made them…AND THEY WERE AMAZING. I made them with both white bread and wheat bread. My friend Trish makes them with gluten-free bread. Any way you go, they will be amazing. 

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Super easy AND super delicious. And when you make them, your house smells fabulous.

This recipe makes about 3 or 4 cups of croutons. It depends on what size and type of bread you use, and how small you make them. 

Here is what you will need:

  • 6 slices of bread
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • grated Parmesan cheese

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Trim the crust off of the bread.
  3. Slice the bread, and then cube it. You can decide on the size. However you choose, that will be the size of your croutons.
  4. Mix melted butter, garlic salt, parsley, and Parmesan until no longer lumpy.
  5. Toss butter mixture with cubed bread in a medium bowl until the cubes are evenly coated.
  6. Cover a baking sheet with foil. You don’t need to do this, but it really makes for an easier cleanup.
  7. Spray the baking sheet (or foil, if you covered it) with non-stick spray.
  8. Spread the coated bread crumbs in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes and check to see if they are dry, crispy, and golden brown.
  10. If they need more time, check it every 3 or 4 minutes. Sometimes mine are done in 15, sometimes it’s 25. It depends on the kind of bread I use. 
  11. Take the croutons out and turn them over. I just use my fingers for this. They’re not super hot, and it doesn’t take as much time as you think it would.
  12. Bake for 15 more minutes, until they are done. Again, if it needs more time, give it more time.
  13. Let them cool. Eat some while you wait. 
  14. Store the croutons in an air-tight container, or a Ziplock bag (my preference).
  15. Enjoy!

They are great on salad, in soups, or just eaten as a snack! I took them to class plenty of times and my friends enjoyed eating croutons with me. 

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