Sunday, March 31, 2013

Krishti u ngjall! Vërtetë u ngjall! (From the archives: April 12, 2009)

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 u ngjall!” and she replied, “Vërtetë u 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.



[Editor’s note. And now it is 2013, Easter Sunday, and the same thing happened this morning, with a couple of slight differences. Our greeting was the same, but this time Mrs. RWP spoke the words first, and I was the one who replied. Also, we now attend a Methodist church, yet the exchange between the speaker and the congregation was the same at this morning’s sunrise service. The communion of the saints. I rest my case.--RWP]

5 comments:

Snowbrush said...

You ought to put a photo of your Methodist Church on the blog for us. I, at least, have wondered what it looks like.

Katherine said...

What a lovely tradition. My grandmother (Baboushka) was Russian, and to her, Easter was much, much more important than Christmas.

rhymeswithplague said...

Snowbrush, I am reluctant to post a photo of my Methodist Church on the blog. For a list of the reasons, send a money order in the amount of $25.00 made out to me, Rhymeswithplague, to General Delivery, Not Grapevine, TX.

Katherine, I agree with your Baboushka.

Vagabonde said...

I am surprised that if your wife’s family was Christian Orthodox they celebrated Easter the same as the Catholics and other Christians. My father, who was Armenian and thus an Armenian Orthodox, had cousins in Albania (as well as Russia and Greece.) They celebrated Easter just like he did, as well as the Russian Orthodox, according to the Julian Calendar. So this year it is more than a month later. The date of the Orthodox Easter Sunday is the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon date for this year, and using the Julian calendar it is the 5th of May, 2013. Maybe there were two kinds of Christian Orthodox in Albania?
I also would like to tell you that I have Indian family (from India.) They told me that there is a lot of problem with Mother Theresa right now over there (she is not well regarded and frankly never was) – the government has closed some of the places she had opened for the poor and there is an investigation on what happened to all the money that was given to her – she could have opened a couple of state of the art hospitals with it, but the places she kept were unfit for even animals I was told. You may check on this if you like. Just Google “the myth about Mother Theresa” or “the truth about Mother Theresa” there are plenty of sites on it. Sometimes tales are too good to be true.

rhymeswithplague said...

Vagabonde, thank you for your comment, which is really about two of my posts (this one and the previous one).

I see that I have left out some information. Let me remedy that by saying that Mrs. RWP's parents worshiped in Albanian (Christian) Orthodox churches in Albania and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, observing the Orthodox dates for Christmas and Easter. While living in Philadelphia, Mrs. RWP's mother also began taking the children occasionally on some Sunday evenings to a Pentecostal church. When the family moved to a small town in North Carolina in 1946 (Mrs. RWP was then 11 years old and her brother was 15), there were no Orthodox congregations in the area. They attended an Episcopal Church briefly thinking it was probably most like what they were used to. Eventually, however, the family moved to a local Pentecostal congregation. After moving from churches using the Eastern calendar to churches using the Western calendar, Mrs. RWP's family also began using the Western calendar for their religious observances.

Regarding Mother Teresa (the previous post), I choose to focus on the good done by her and the now world-wide charitable organization she founded within Roman Catholicism. I am not surprised that there would be severe criticism, both from Hindus in India and from right-wing extremist American Christian Protestants like Tim Challies who don't consider Roman Catholics to be Christian. My opinion is that they don't get to decide who is in and who is out of the fold. Neither do you and neither do I. Only God does. Terrible things were said about Jesus also, such as he was a winebibber and gluttonous, and ate with publicans and sinners. But some said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."