Easter (Húsvét) holds great significance to the people of Hungary. This is a special time where celebrations are marked by folk traditions and religious observance.
Elaborately decorated eggs, dousing rituals, church ceremonies, prayers, and special foods are common practices leading up to and during Easter in Hungary.
Here are a few of the most popular customs.
Hungarians regard “Lent” as the Great Fast for Easter. Since meat is forbidden during Lent, the day before Ash Wednesday is called “Húshagyó Kedd“, which means “meat abandoning Tuesday”. On Holy Saturday, what is known as “Nagyszombat” in Hungary, people take food baskets filled with kalács, red eggs and salt to the church, to be blessed by the clergyman. This blessed food is eaten in the Easter dinner after the resurrection ceremonies are over.
The art of decorating Easter eggs in Hungary was originally a Pagan ritual but was carried over with the acceptance of Christianity. Eggs are decorated with simple geometric shapes or ornamented with swirls of plants and flowers. The color red is often used as it symbolizes the blood of Christ. Many eggs also carry the embroidery of Hungarian designs that are a part of the traditional dress. Painted wooden eggs are also displayed in many Hungarian homes.
Centuries ago on Palm Sunday it was customary to bless not only branches but also the various flowers of the season. Today, the flowers are still mentioned in the antiphons after the prayer of blessing. Thus, the name Flower Sunday or “Virágvasárnap” is used in Hungary.
Sprinkling is a very popular Easter custom in Hungary, observed on Easter Monday, which is also known as “Ducking Monday“. On this day, boys playfully sprinkle perfume or perfumed water on girls. Until some time back, young men used to pour buckets of water over young women’s heads. Now it is more common for men to spray perfume, cologne or just plain water, and then ask for a kiss and a red egg. This ritual is associated with fertility, healing, and cleansing rites.
Category: Customs & Traditions
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Suzanne Urpecz, creator and editor of The Hungarian Girl. Click on my About page for more info.