Sunday, April 5, 2015

Krishti u ngjall! Vërtetë u ngjall!

(This post first appeared on 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 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. A lovely tradition indeed, and educational for me as well. Do teach the Grandchildren yes! ? And does Mrs RWP speak Albanian too? Or have you said that and I missed it, (brain being slow as it is at present).

  2. Like other Christian festivals or special days, Easter has its origins in pagan history. Oestre was a goddess of the springtime and of hope for the future.
    (RWP cage now rattled. The beast within growls. Grrrr!)

  3. All Consuming (Michelle), Mrs. RWP understands spoken Albanian but never learned to speak it (or read it or write it) herself. She and her mom would have the most unusual bilingual conversations, her mom in Albanian and Mrs. RWP in English. It was strange to behold. I have managed to learn a little bit on my own. For example, Mirë mëngjes (Good morning), Unë të dua (I love you), and of course, Krishti u ngjall! Vërtetë u ngjall! (Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!)....

    Yorkshire Pudding (Neil), au contraire! I regret to inform you that the beast within is not growling and the RWP cage has not been rattled. Of course Oestre was a goddess of springtime and there is also Ishtar and Astarte and Ashtoreth (some of them are even fertility goddesses). My post was not about them. We didn't wish one another a "Happy Easter" post is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, not green grass or baby chicks or bunny rabbits. I cannot explain Jesus any more than someone in the dark can explain a flashlight. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said 700 years before Christ, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. " And that much, as pertains to me at least, is true.

  4. Well said, Mr. RWP. My prayer is that all in the darkness will see the light.
    Sorry to be late, but He is, indeed, Risen, and I am glad.