Europe

AP PHOTOS: New trends join old Easter traditions in Romania

  • In this Thursday, April 13, 2017, picture artisan Nicu Poenariu turns Easter eggs on sale at a fair in Bucharest, Romania. Ahead of Easter, celebrated by both Orthodox and Catholic believers on April 16 processions of priests clad in golden robes carrying foliage on Palm Sunday in a recreation of Jesus' ride into Jerusalem, mixed with more commercial flavored celebrations like an Easter fair outside the giant palace built by late Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu where entertainers strutted around wearing giant rabbit heads.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

    In this Thursday, April 13, 2017, picture artisan Nicu Poenariu turns Easter eggs on sale at a fair in Bucharest, Romania. Ahead of Easter, celebrated by both Orthodox and Catholic believers on April 16 processions of priests clad in golden robes carrying foliage on Palm Sunday in a recreation of Jesus' ride into Jerusalem, mixed with more commercial flavored celebrations like an Easter fair outside the giant palace built by late Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu where entertainers strutted around wearing giant rabbit heads.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Saturday, April 8, 2017, picture a Romanian Catholic picks up a wooden cross from a tree before the start of a procession ahead of Palm Sunday in Bucharest, Romania. Ahead of Easter, celebrated by both Orthodox and Catholic believers on April 16 processions of priests clad in golden robes carrying foliage on Palm Sunday in a recreation of Jesus' ride into Jerusalem, mixed with more commercial flavored celebrations like an Easter fair outside the giant palace built by late Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu where entertainers strutted around wearing giant rabbit heads.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

    In this Saturday, April 8, 2017, picture a Romanian Catholic picks up a wooden cross from a tree before the start of a procession ahead of Palm Sunday in Bucharest, Romania. Ahead of Easter, celebrated by both Orthodox and Catholic believers on April 16 processions of priests clad in golden robes carrying foliage on Palm Sunday in a recreation of Jesus' ride into Jerusalem, mixed with more commercial flavored celebrations like an Easter fair outside the giant palace built by late Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu where entertainers strutted around wearing giant rabbit heads.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Saturday, April 8, 2017, picture a Romanian Orthodox priest's son looks up along with his mother during a service ahead of Palm Sunday in Bucharest, Romania. Ahead of Easter, celebrated by both Orthodox and Catholic believers on April 16 processions of priests clad in golden robes carrying foliage on Palm Sunday in a recreation of Jesus' ride into Jerusalem, mixed with more commercial flavored celebrations like an Easter fair outside the giant palace built by late Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu where entertainers strutted around wearing giant rabbit heads.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

    In this Saturday, April 8, 2017, picture a Romanian Orthodox priest's son looks up along with his mother during a service ahead of Palm Sunday in Bucharest, Romania. Ahead of Easter, celebrated by both Orthodox and Catholic believers on April 16 processions of priests clad in golden robes carrying foliage on Palm Sunday in a recreation of Jesus' ride into Jerusalem, mixed with more commercial flavored celebrations like an Easter fair outside the giant palace built by late Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu where entertainers strutted around wearing giant rabbit heads.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)  (The Associated Press)

New trends are joining old traditions in Romania this Easter.

In the predominantly Christian Orthodox country of 19 million, age-old crafts such as intricate egg decorating and painted religious icons are a major feature of the Holy Week run-up to Easter Sunday. But a more commercial flavor has slowly crept into the celebrations.

At an Easter fair outside the Bucharest palace built by the late Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, entertainers strutted around wearing giant rabbit heads. Huge models of colored eggs in baskets dotted the displays. An oversized hen pulled a cart while a plastic rabbit sat in the back with a model of large painted egg, scenes that could have been inspired by "Alice in Wonderland."

Painted religious symbols, a major feature of Christian Orthodox observances, also were on display and for sale at the fair and the patriarchy, the seat of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

Tradition flourished elsewhere in the Romanian capital. Craftsmen such as Nicu Poenaru skillfully embellished hen, ostrich and goose eggs by hollowing out the contents and carefully piercing tiny holes in the shells, creating objects of artistic and religious value. Prices range from 15 lei to 150 lei ($3.50 to $35) depending on the size and intricacy of the design.

While humans in rabbit costumes were all the rage at the fair, one child got to see a real rabbit close up, crouching down by the animal's cage with wonder.