fun on the farm
March and April are a festive time in Moldova. After many dreary months of bleak, wintry weather, Moldovans welcome the coming of spring in style.
First, there was Mărțișor, which marks the beginning of spring — a custom Moldova shares with Bulgaria and Romania. On March 1st, Moldovans exchange small red-and-white charms, usually woven out of colored wool, to celebrate the coming of spring. According to tradition, these talismans represent the promise of good health in the coming year, though in the modern age they are mostly seen as symbols of friendship or appreciation. People still wear these mărțișors pinned close to the heart until the end of March before tying them to a tree branch, as they used to in the olden days.
Then in April we get a double dose of Easter festivities. Moldovans do not celebrate Ash Wednesday or Palm Sunday, which are the hallmarks of paschal celebrations among Western Christians, but Orthodox Easter falls on the subsequent Sunday, and this is the biggest holiday in the Moldovan calendar. After Orthodox Easter is Memorial Easter, a more subdued but equally important observance, which Moldovans spend with family, visiting and taking care of the graves of their deceased relatives.
For us, this means back-to-back three-day weekends and the opportunity to take advantage of the warmer weather to let Munchkin roam outdoors. Now that he is mobile and his daytime sleep has consolidated down to one afternoon nap, S endeavors to expand his horizons and ensure that he does not spend every day inside the same four walls. Munchkin goes to a playgroup several time a week, and though the kids are all a bit older than him, they give him hugs and sometimes include him in their play.
Munchkin’s playgroup went to the zoo one week, and to the aviary the next. He loves animals, but the caged beasts were too far away to make an impression on him, so S found something better. This past weekend, we took him to Zoo Club — a farm/zoo hybrid in a village just outside Chisinau that is apparently all the rage among local kids. We went with Moldovan friends whose daughter is Munchkin’s age, and by the time we were getting ready to head back for nap time the place was overrun by children of all ages.
It’s kind of amazing that even at his young age and without being able to say a single word, Munchkin had no trouble conveying just how much he enjoyed the outing. At times he would get so excited that he would grow overcome by emotion, his arms flailing and his mouth wide open but unable to give voice to his exhilaration. Given that our entertainment options are rather more limited than they would be Stateside, it’s a fair bet that we’ll become regulars at the Zoo Club this summer.