Sunday, March 27, 2016

Krishti u ngjall! Vërtetë u ngjall!

(This post has appeared on this blog twice previously, first on April 12, 2009, and again on April 5, 2015. The only change I would make to the original is that nowadays we attend a Methodist Church.)

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.

I thought it would be interesting to post the comments from 2009 and 2015 as well. Here are the ones from 2009:


Reamus said...

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

April 12, 2009 at 11:32 PM

Pat - Arkansas said...

Alleluia! Alleluia!

April 13, 2009 at 9:52 AM

bARE-eYED sUN said...

beutiful tradition, sentiment and photo. :-)

thank you

April 14, 2009 at 2:10 AM

Jeannelle said...

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!

April 14, 2009 at 5:25 AM

Egghead said...

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

April 15, 2009 at 6:28 PM

rhymeswithplague said...

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.

April 15, 2009 at 10:01 PM

Anonymous said...

Krishti u ngjall!

April 19, 2009 at 5:32 PM

A Lady's Life said...

Very beautiful church.

April 21, 2009 at 7:23 PM

RachelS. said...

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

April 14, 2012 at 8:00 PM

rhymeswithplague said...

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!"

April 14, 2012 at 10:10 PM

Qafzez said...

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!

May 5, 2013 at 7:24 AM

rhymeswithplague said...

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.

May 5, 2013 at 8:29 AM

Klahanie said...

What a wonderful, thoughtful tradition to be upheld.

I sense the ambience.

Thank you, my kind friend.


April 7, 2015 at 10:50 PM

...and here are the comments from 2015:


All Consuming said...

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).

April 5, 2015 at 1:54 PM

Yorkshire Pudding said...

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!)

April 6, 2015 at 6:41 AM

rhymeswithplague said...

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.

April 6, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Hilltophomesteader said...

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.

April 7, 2015 at 1:02 AM


  1. My first thought when I read those words was that it sounded (if that's the right word for something you read) like Christingle, the Moravian Advent tradition adopted by other denominations these days. No connection, of course, other than the Christ/Krishti bit, but interesting nonetheless, at least for me.

  2. You got more comments back then, but, of course, that was before you became so controversially inflammatory regarding religion and politics. I’ll bet you weren’t even aware of what a firebrand you’ve become, but since someone clearly had to tell you, all of your readers got together and voted, and I won—or lost, as the case may be. Anyway, you know that a polarizing figure Liberace was, what with all those furs and weirdness. Still, Peggy and I have a Christmas album by him that we enjoy, and if I were to read a book about some celebrity, it would probably be him. I think I’ve only read one such book, and it was about Sammy Davis. I wasn’t even much interested in him, but I saw the book while browsing one day. He was a sad fellow who lived a sad life, but although I felt sorry for him, I came away from the book liking him less than I did before I read it.

  3. I am a parishioner at St. John's Albanian Orthodox Church in Philadelphia and found your read very interesting. Ad we prepare ourselves for Holy Week we welcome you and your loved ones to visit us for the beautiful services being held next week. Please check out our website for the schedule, you will not be disappointed.
    Michele Dimitri