Well, Easter in Hungary is observed in accordance with the rituals of the Eastern Orthodox Church. On Good Friday afternoon religious people go to the church to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On Holy Saturday the worshipers congregate in the church for midnight resurrection ceremonies. After the church service people carry a statue of Christ and religious banners in a procession through the parish, singing appropriate hymns.
The Hungarians call Lent the Great Fast (nagyböjt). Since meat is forbidden during Lent, the day before Ash Wednesday is called húshagyó kedd, meaning meat abandoning Tuesday. On Holy Saturday or Nagyszombat, people take food baskets filled with kalács (milkloaf), red eggs and salt to the church to be blessed by the clergy. The blessed food is eaten after the resurrection ceremonies. So Saturday evening marks the end of the Lent and people have traditional dishes: smoked ham with pickled horseradish, hardboiled eggs and fresh white bread or milk-loaf.
On Easter Sunday morning the Easter bunny brings presents for the children. Easter bunny hide his (or her?) present in the garden and the children have to find them :)
I guess this isn't a religious tradition, but this part of Easter which my children like the best :)
Pork, poultry, lamb and rabbit dominate the traditional Easter Sunday lunch with various garnishing, but many housewives cook stuffed cabbageand bake beigli (pastry rolls with walnut or poppy seed stuffing) not just for Christmas but for Easter too.
Beigli Poppy seed
Easter Monday is the day of the "Locsolkodás". It meant in olden days the girls would had been taken outside and the men threw buckets of water on them or even, if a stream was close by, simply threw the girls into the water. This goes back to ancient fertility and cleansing rituals and the custom is still alive, although, nowadays it is in a mild form: the boys and men sprinkle the girls with perfume and in return the girls give them chocolate or painted eggs, what we call hímestojás in Hungarian.
Now here is an interesting tidbit of info on Easter Monday....ready girls???
Easter eggs symbolize the birth of a new life, the fertility and the coming spring. Red is the most popular color, because it recalls the blood of Jesus Christ. In Hungary different games and superstitions are also linked to the Easter eggs, regarding luck and love for the rest of the year.
You can also find animals amongst the Easter symbols. The oldest of these is the Easter Lamb, which is originally related to the Bible, where the Jews were sacrificing a lamb to avoid the wrath of God, and Jesus is our lamb who had been sacrificed for us.
The explanation of the Easter bunny is much more difficult, but it probably came from German myths and was related to fertility. By the end of the last century, the Easter bunny had become very popular.
The Easter chocolate figures are also essential part of Easter Holiday. Hence Easter is a time (beside the day of Santa Claus) when the much sweet eating is legal for the children :)
Húsvéti csoki / Easter chocolate
Now lastly, there is one more thing that I think that is pretty cool about Easter and Hungary...
And it actually comes from Croatia...
The well known latin proverb "OMNE VIVUM EX OVO"("All life comes from an egg") dates back to biblical times, when the egg was a symbol of a new life, strength, resurrection and eternal life: the birth of a little chick out of the egg symbolises Jesus Christ coming out from the grave and conquering death.
Croatia has a long and rich tradition of egg decorating prepared within families during Lent. There are many different Easter eggs painting techniques in Croatia.
The was the first in Croatia to launch a project to create large Easter Eggs, painted in the special visual expression, naive style from Hlebine, thus combining two important traditions of the Podravina region: decorating Easter eggs and naive art. The project «Easter Egg from the Heart» included members of: the Association of Hlebine's painters and sculptors, the Association "Molve Art Circle", Association of painters and sculptors from Kloštar Podravski called 'Kloštranska paleta', artist from Đurđevac and the Art group "Podravka 72": together they gave the eggs vitality whilst depicting everyday life and traditions of the Drava region. Thanks to cooperation with the Croatian National Tourist Board, eggs that spread the joy of Easter, decorate squares, galleries and exibition spaces in New York, Bilbao, Pamplona, Budapest, Klagenfurt, Ferrara, Vukovar, Milan, Rome-Vatican (gift to Holy Father Benedict XVI), Međugorje, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Varaždin, Koprivnica, Križevci, Molve, Đurđevac and many more. The egg is made of polyester and is 2.05m tall and 1.50m wide, painted with the highest quality weather resistant colours.
This is a photo of the egg given to Hungary and is at the St. Mark's Church in Budapest.
So...now that you see where some of the "gypsea ness" in me comes from...
I wish you all a very happy, healthy and safe Easter!
Boldog Husveti Ünnepeket!