- 29 Mar 2018 3:50 PM
“Easter sprinkling” (húsvéti locsolkodás), a tradition that lives on to this day in Hungary, is based on the belief in the cleansing power of water, and it is connected to a fertility rite.
Easter Monday is also called “Dousing Monday” (vízbevető hétfő), because the young men used to go around the village and drench the girls with buckets of water freshly drawn from the well.
More recently, the buckets of water were replaced with scented water or perfume, and the sprinkling is accompanied by the recital of an Easter Rhyme.
The custom varies, of course, from region to region, and is more traditional in the small villages. Eastrer Rhymes can also be quite elaborate or short and funny. A sample of these follows, in the translation of Iren Bencze:
Ajtó mögött állok,
Piros tojást várok.
Ha nem adtok, lányok,
Estig is itt állok!
Here I stand behind the door,
My Easter egg I’m asking for.
Ladies, better mark my word,
Bring my egg or here I mold.
Szagos húsvét reggele.
Leöntjük a virágot,
Visszük már a kalácsot.
Scribble-scrabble, Service Tree,
Easter Monday, fragrant glee.
Pretty flowers water we,
With cookie bounty out we flee.
Along the Ipoly River, boys used to go to girls’ homes on the evening of Easter Sunday, collect fresh eggs from them, and make scrambled eggs the next day. They would scatter the broken shells under the window of the girl they were cross with. That taken care of, they would then proceed with the sprinkling. The girls would try to hide, but whoever was found could not escape the bucket of cold water.
Throughout the country, the reward for sprinkling is a treat with food or drinks, and of course, the Easter egg (hímes tojás). The Easter egg can be plain red or intricately decorated. Before the appearance of modern dyes, natural ingredients were used to color the eggs. One of the most common ways to tan the eggs is to boil them with onion skin.
There are many other decorating techniques, one of the most interesting ones being candle dripping. The warm wax was applied with a feather quill attached to a glass, tin, or earthenware container. The design drawn with the wax would remain white after the dyeing process.
Another simple technique that yields an intricate design is attaching damp leaves to the eggs, before boiling them with onion skin or using other dyes. When the leaves are removed from the air-dried eggs, their shape and veins remain outlined on the colored eggs.