Easter in Hungary – customs and sprinkling poems
Easter in Hungary
Two of the most common folk customs are sprinkling and egg-painting, and the two go hand in hand. Easter Monday is a very busy day, so everyone gets up early; girls and women dress up in traditional costumes and they are waiting for the boys and men who – armed with a bucket of water – go from door to door, visiting female relatives, friends and acquaintances.
Women are considered flowers, who will wither without the yearly proper sprinkling; in the old times people used to believe in the cleaning and fertility effect of the water. Men politely ask the women if they can sprinkle them in the form of a “sprinkle poem”, and if they get a yes, they pour the bucket of water on them. It’s even more fun if the water is cold, and girls are screaming.Younger girls often have a friendly competition on who gets the most sprinklers.
The payment that the men get for the sprinkling is painted eggs -which woman prepare for days before Easter-, candy, and sometimes money. Men are also offered alcoholic beverages at almost every house, so it’s not uncommon to get drunk as the day goes by. It’s a shame if a girl is not ready when the first sprinklers arrive, and it is also a shame if she doesn’t have enough painted eggs for her visitors.
Easter in Hungary
Nowadays – especially in urban areas – women wear casual clothes for this occasion, and men sprinkle perfume or cologne in women’s hair. The result is that most women have about 40 different scents in their hair by the end of the day. In urban areas the tradition of painted eggs is slowly dying. Those who paint eggs use paint powder and simply boil the eggs in it, or they buy wooden or some other type of pre-painted eggs. Chocolate eggs are also getting more and more acceptable.
Although sprinkling itself goes out of fashion in big cities, one thing hasn’t changed: those men who visit their female relatives, still have to say a sprinkle poem. Men often search for days to find the funniest -or in some cases the most suggestive- poems, some are even writing their own poems. This is a great chance to get creative. This can lead to a fun competition between men too: whose poem makes women laugh the most.
A few examples of sprinkle poems in a more traditional style:
I’m waiting patiently in front of your door
I’m waiting patiently in front of your door,
Painted eggs are what I’m asking for,
They better be big and they better be red,
Or I’m taking away your daughter instead!
Wandering through the woods nearby
Wandering through the woods nearby,
A lonely daisy caught my eye.
Without rain she seemed to wither,
So I’d thought I’d bring my sprinkler.
Fairest flower, rise from your pillows
Fairest flower, rise from your pillows,
Look how beautifully green are the meadows!
I’ll sprinkle you with dew from the clouds,
I’ll take as many eggs as my bag allows.
I bid you good morning, You blossoming flower
I bid you good morning,
You blossoming flower,
I’ll sprinkle with rose-water,
So you will not wither.
I wandered through forests
Saw flowers by a dozen,
I flew to you in haste in
A sheep hauled quaking wagon.
Here’s the rose-water,
My lily of the valley,
Give me all your red, red eggs
As much as I can carry.
(Zita Hummer / itsHungarian.com)
Easter egg painting party from Hungary (official music video)