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GET YOUR SPRINKLERS READY TO CELEBRATE EASTER THE HUNGARIAN WAY!

Easter is not only the biggest holiday for the Christians, it is also a celebration of spring and the fruitfulness of women. We advise you how to celebrate Easter in Budapest or in the country with lots of water (or perfume) spilled – the Hungarian way!

Christian people celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ since the 3rd century, and since Hungary took up Christianity around the year 1000, the long Easter weekend is the biggest national holiday in the country.

What’s in that Easter basket?

During the Easter week each day has got its traditions. Religious people keep the Lent, which means they don’t eat meat and food containing fat during the Easter week, so that their bodies and souls get cleansed by Resurrection Day. Good Friday is the time for house cleaning and decorating Easter eggs. Holy Saturday is all about the preparation of special food and decorations for the next day. On Easter Saturday Hungarian families fill their baskets with smoked ham, sausages, boiled eggs, horseradish and Easter cake, complete with a bottle of wine, and take them to the church to be blessed. After this the Lent is broken with meat dishes, which leads to possibly the richest – and most delicious – lunch tables during the whole year!

Sprinkling

The custom of “sprinkling” is a ritual associated with fertility and cleansing rites left over from ancient times. Sprinkling takes place on Easter Monday, but in some regions it already starts on Sunday afternoon. The boys/men grab their buckets – or sprinkling water bottles – early in the morning and spill the girls/women with water, out of pure love. Mind you, there is a more civilised way for sprinkling, using eau de cologne or perfume to greet the girls which comes after a short, often funny Easter poem recited by the boys. Preferences of getting soaked in water or being stinky by the end of the day due to the perfumes may change, depending on the ladies’ personality… Anyway, don’t be surprised if you see a girl or woman walking in the streets in soaking wet clothes, laughing out loud: getting “sprinkled” is an honour!

Easter eggs

Easter egg painting is an old tradition in Hungary. Look for eggs decorated with Hungarian motifs, including those that mimic Hungarian embroidery in colourful floral designs. Simple, homemade eggs may bear the imprint of a leaf that was secured to it during the dying process. The dark red Easter eggs, often with a white design, recall the spilling of Christ’s blood. The most unique Easter eggs are those decorated with small metal horseshoes. These eggs require a great deal of patience and expertise as the decorator’s hands must be steady so as not to break the eggshell when affixing the horseshoe onto the blown egg.

Music and dance at Easter fairs

Look out for those nice Easter eggs at the traditional Easter Fair at Vörösmarty Square, downtown Budapest. Other fairs and Easter-themed programmes are waiting for you in the Buda Castle and in the Castle Garden (Várkert Bazár) which are really easy to reach as the Red Line buses of CitySightseeing Budapest or the coaches of the Official Castle Bus will take you right there. On Holy Saturday, 20th of April an Easter march will start from Clark Ádám square (Buda side of the Chain Bridge) to take you the Castle Garden, supported by Hungarian folk music. You can enjoy a traditional dance show performed by the Corvinus Folk Dance Group in the Castle Garden, followed by live concerts of popular Hungarian music bands, including György Ferenczi & The First Pest Rackas, the Pannonia All Stars Ska Orchestra, Parno Graszt, the Barna Pély Trio and Firkin.

If you wish to spend some quality time with your children and soak up the atmosphere of the Hungarian traditions, visit the Skanzen (Village Museum) in Szentendre. The kids can get really close to farm animals such as the rabbit, the sheep or the donkey, meanwhile you can enjoy the sight of young girls and boys singing folk songs and wearing traditional Hungarian dresses. You can get to Szentendre by the suburban train H5, departing from Batthyány Square.

More on the Easter weekend timetable of suburban train H5 HERE

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