Sunday, April 12, 2009

Krishti u ngjall! Vërtetë u ngjall!

The title of this post is in old-style Albanian, the language my wife’s parents spoke.

Every year, on a certain day, when Mom and Pop were still alive, we would call them in Florida or they would call us in Nebraska or New York or Florida or Georgia (we moved a lot) and whichever party said “Hello?” heard the words, “Krishti u ngjall!”

The response was always immediate from the other person: “Vërtetë u ngjall!”

Phonetically, it sounded something like this:

KRISH-tee oong-ee-AHL! vair-TET oong-ee-AHL!

What a strange thing to do, you might be thinking.

Not at all. If you’re curious what those strange phrases might mean, here is an English translation: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

The day, of course, was Easter Sunday -- Resurrection Day -- and we were simply doing what Christians have been doing in various places and in various languages for two thousand years.

After Pop died in 1983 and Mom died in 1986, we continued the traditional Albanian Easter greeting with Mrs RWP’s aunt in North Carolina. Now she is gone, too. There is nobody left in the family to speak Albanian to.

So, very early this morning, as the day was beginning to dawn, I said to Mrs. RWP, “Krishti ngjall!” and she replied, “Vërtetë ngjall!” Some traditions are worth preserving.

This was not only an Easter greeting, it was something like the communion of the saints, I think. Some of them on earth, and some of them in Heaven. But all in agreement.

In many places around the world, in many languages, many people said these words today. We said them at our own church (Pentecostal, not Albanian Orthodox) this morning. The pastor said, “Christ is risen!” and the entire congregation replied, “He is risen indeed!” The pastor said it three times, and after the third response, spontaneous applause broke out in the choir and among the congregation.

As I said, the communion of the saints.

This afternoon I found on the Internet a photograph of the interior of Saints Peter and Paul Albanian Orthodox Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the church Mrs. RWP attended as a child with her mother, father, and brother. It was the first time my wife had seen this church since 1946. The church is decorated in the photograph, not for Easter, but for another Christian holiday.

Christmas. You may have heard of it.


  1. We should all keep such traditions alive, Mr. RWP, thank you for sharing a fine post.

  2. beutiful tradition, sentiment and photo. :-)

    thank you


  3. Oh, Rhymsie, this is a wonderful post! What a treasure to know those ancient Easter words in a unique language! Yes, keep the tradition alive of speaking them.

    I woke up too early and decided to change my blogpost to publish on April 15, but after seeing the CHRISTMAS photo on your post, I'm leaving it for today, the 14th.

    A belated Merry Easter to you!

  4. What a beautiful gift you gave your wife. That is the sweetest thing I have heard in a long time.

  5. Thank you to everyone who commented:

    Reamus - This tradition will probably end in our family with the two of us. Our children don't speak Albanian, let alone their spouses. Perhaps we can teach the grandchildren, though.

    Pat - Arkansas - So you liked it then....

    bARE-eYED sUN - Welcome, first-timer! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Come back often.

    Jeannelle - And an even more belated Merry Easter to you!

    Egghead (Vonda) - We've been doing this every Easter for 46 years now.

  6. Krishti u ngjall!

  7. Dua kishën aq shumë! se foto e kishës është e bukur! Unë jam shqiptare si ju!Kristi Ngjall!

  8. A Lady's Life, I think so too!

    RachelS., thanks for commenting! I used to learn that you said, "I love church so much! that picture of the church is beautiful! I am Albanian like you! Kristi Risen!"

  9. Krishti u ngjall! Albanian American from Philadelphia and I attend this beautiful Church. I don't speak much Albanian either but we are Albanian Orthodox and its in our soul. Important to pass these traditions on to future generations. Come visit!

  10. Welcome, Qafzez, to this little corner of Blogworld. Ask some of the very oldest people in your church if they remember Jim and Carrie Cudse (Dhimitri and Ksanthipi Kuci) or Nelson and Christine Pitchi. The names of the children in the two families were Mike, Eleanor, Nancy, and Johnny. These were Mrs. RWP's parents and uncle and aunt. They all moved to North Carolina around 1946.

  11. What a wonderful, thoughtful tradition to be upheld.

    I sense the ambience.

    Thank you, my kind friend.