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Mother's Day honored with culture combination

May 12, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The tradition of celebrating Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May is not part of Romanian culture, but, nevertheless, the Rev. Dan Mehedincu dedicated his sermon Sunday to honoring women and mothers everywhere.

"Today, for us, it didn't mean anything, but we're showing respect for (the American) culture of Mother's Day," said Mehedincu, a Romanian Orthodox priest at St. Philothea of Arges, through a translator.

The parish, which meets on Lappans Road and is the only Romanian Orthodox church in Maryland, celebrated the adopted holiday Sunday by inviting the community to share in Romanian culture at a picnic in Devil's Backbone Park, south of Hagerstown.

The festivities included Romanian music and dancing, as well as traditional Romanian foods such as "Mici," a grilled minced-meat roll church members had to travel to New York to purchase for the picnic.

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The day also was an appropriate one for honoring women because it was the third Sunday after the Orthodox Easter, a day dedicated to the three women who cared for the Savior after his death and were first to witness his resurrection, Mehedincu said.

"We try to mix the Romanian tradition with the American tradition, put it together and have a good time all together," said Cornel Achim, the church's vice president.

Achim said it is important for Romanian-Americans to learn and respect American laws, culture and language.

"We try to be very good Americans because America is the country that opened the door for us," he said.

Meanwhile, for Hope Ciobanita, 37, of Hagerstown, the picnic served as another opportunity to expose her daughter, 15-year-old Maddie Ciobanita, to the traditions, food, language and religion of their native country.

Since their family moved to the United States when Maddie was 6, Hope said she has tried to remind her daughter not to forget what she left behind.

So this Mother's Day, the pair spent part of the day celebrating in an American way, with shopping, lunch and a gift, and another part enjoying a second culture Maddie said she might never have known if not for her mother's dedication.

"She's really pushed me to learn more Romanian," Maddie said. "She's been a really big inspiration for me."

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