I thought today is the right time to share some of the Hungarian Easter customs we have. Our Easter celebrations are a little bit different in some aspects.
Firstly, we spend Saturday preparing, cooking, cleaning and decorating. For my family and community Easter really starts on Saturday afternoon when we attend a mass where there’s the blessing of the fire and water and a huge procession around the church. It’s lovely, people singing, your way lighted only by the bobbing lights of candles. It is at least 2-2,5 hours long… A long wait, but then we go home and eat the first traditional Hungarian Easter dinner of the year (you find the post about it here).
After the flurry of Saturday Sunday is relatively quiet. There’s mass in the morning then family lunch and relaxation, I think of it as getting ready for “the race” on Monday. Yeah, we have Easter Monday off in Hungary! I miss it dearly this year when I’m working…
So, Easter Monday… We have a type of egg hunt just like in America. In Hungary the Easter Bunny brings chocolates, colorful eggs and trinkets to the kids hiding them somewhere in the flat, yard or field. It’s fun rooting around trying to find the treasures! This year my Easter basket arrived early and by the mail. Thanks, Mom! Love you!!!
Last but definitely not least is an endearing and pretty lengthy custom that lasts the whole day. In Hungarian it’s called Locsolkodás /la-chalk-o-doshe/, the closest approximation in English is Girl Sprinkling. It’s an old custom that has been part of Hungarian culture for centuries and it came from our folklore. In the completely traditional locsolkodás boys banded together to go from house to house equipped with buckets. At that time we didn’t have piping but every front yard had water wells and troughs so they used those to dose and sprinkle girls who stayed home waiting for the guests, with stone cold water. For this service their reward were beautifully decorated handmade eggs. Girls prided themselves in outdoing others designs so they created detailed, filigree designs to appeal to boys. This was part of courting rituals and the symbolism is evident… Girls in Hungarian folklore songs are depicted as flowers who need watering to bloom so it is an honor to take part in locsolkodás and a bad omen if you are left out. After the fun part sure the guests stayed to sample the family’s Easter meal.
Today we mostly participate in a vastly modernized version of it, at least in the city. Thank’ God for that! We are not sprinkled with water anymore. Sophisticated young man use nice smelling perfumes while older man, like my Dad, use the smelliest, sweetest patchouli ever created on Earth. The end result: you are definitely not smelling like flowers (especially after meeting your 10+ sprinkler) and needing a shower and thorough shampooing as soon as possible. We still give eggs as rewards but in these busy times women are not required to make their own Easter eggs (though it is fun), you can replace them with chocolate eggs.
This year since I am not at home I tried emulating the crafty side of Easter and color some eggs the traditional way. Here’s how it’s done:
Natural Egg Coloring
brown onion peel for orangey-brown (2 cups)
spinach for green
purple cabbage for purpley-blue
beetroot poking water for pink
2 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar
6 cups of water
Gather at least 5-6 onions brown peel. Put the water on boil in a metal pot and place the coloring inside. Add the vinegar and cook for 30 minutes until the water is visibly colored. Be careful not to boil away too much of the water, you want enough so your eggs will be covered. Pull the pot off the heat and wait until it’s cooled down to room temperature. Wash the eggs so the shells are completely clean and boil them separate from the coloring water then cool them out. Here you can place them into the coloring water immediately or you can decorate them. Since these are not as strong as syntactic colorings the eggs need longer in the water, give them at least a few hours.
Technique for decoration:
Written eggs aka Waxing
This is the technique I tried this year. You have to heat up some candle wax and keep it warm while you are working. A little, electric mug warmer comes handy. Traditionally the patterning is done with a special pen that holds a little bit of wax. The patterns are detailed and richly decorated like these outlines.
Lacking the necessary tools for the patterns you can create some much simpler designs like I did with toothpicks (I preferred these) for uneven thin lines and dots, pens for squiggles and bigger dots and forks for parallel scratch marks. Another handy way is dipping the eggs into the wax.
When you’re done with the decoration let the wax set then gently place them into the coloring water. Be careful, little dots tend to pop off… I learned that the hard way! After the required time take out the eggs and let them dry on a paper towel, then cratch the wax off gently with a knife. You can see my end results a little bit higher up. It was fun even though I didn’t have too much time to play around. I hope to try more techniques and colors next year…
See you soon!