Published: October 02 2023
Easter in Hungary extends beyond the simple exchange of chocolate eggs and bunnies that we commonly see in the Western world. It is rich in diverse customs and traditions that are deeply rooted in the country’s history and culture. In answering the question, "What are the traditions of Hungarian Easter celebrations?" we can look to traditions like Easter Monday, the ‘sprinkling’, Easter meals, and more.
Easter Monday and the 'Sprinkling' Custom
On Easter Monday, known as ‘Húsvéthétfő’ in Hungary, a unique tradition called ‘sprinkling’ or 'watering' takes place. Originally, it involved young men playfully throwing buckets of water over young women. According to old beliefs, the water signifies purification and fertility to ensure women stay healthy and ‘bloom’ like flowers. In modern times, the tradition has evolved into men sprinkling cologne or perfumed water on women’s heads, and in urban areas, this often takes the form of a playful water gun fight.
On Easter Sunday, families often have a grand lunch featuring dishes like roast lamb and ham, along with various sweet delicacies for dessert. A favored addition to the Easter table is 'Túró Rudi', a delightful chocolate bar with a sweet-curd-cheese filling.
Easter Monday’s meal is slightly different as it generally features a light dinner rather than an elaborate lunch. This often includes the classic Hungarian dish ‘Húsvéti töltött tojás’, an Easter egg stuffed with a tasty, savory filling.
Decorated Easter Eggs
In Hungary, the tradition of decorating Easter eggs is a cherished art form passed down through generations. Hungarian Easter eggs, known locally as 'Hímestojás', are made by using a wax-resistance method where designs are drawn on the egg with heated beeswax before the egg is dyed. The wax prevents the dye from reaching the egg, resulting in a beautiful pattern when the wax is melted off. It is a time-consuming process but one that results in incredibly intricate and stunning eggs.
Being a predominantly Christian nation, attending church services during the Easter period is a central tradition, particularly on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Families come together for these services, which are held in Hungarian and often feature a procession led by children from the local community.
A unique custom in Hungary that signifies rebirth and the start of the agricultural year is sprouting wheat. Families plant wheat grains in a plate or bowl a week before Easter, and by Easter Sunday, they have sprouts that are often used as a table decoration.
In sum, Hungarian Easter celebrations are steeped in a blend of religion, folklore, and culinary delights that give it a unique charm. Whether it be the festive meals, the ‘sprinkling' custom, or the vibrant, elaborately decorated eggs, these traditions are a vibrant part of how Easter is celebrated in Hungary.