Easter traditions are very deeply ingrained in the social life of the people of Hungary. They are both religious and secular, and sometimes are intertwined.
Egg painting is one of the oldest Easter traditions. The beautiful ornamental eggs are decorated with flower motifs, traditional Hungarian embroidery designs or with more simple geometrical designs. Red is a very popular color for decorated eggs and symbolizes the blood of Christ. Eggs can be ceramic, porcelain, wooden, or fragile real eggs.
The traditional meal on Easter consists of boiled smoked ham, boiled eggs, potato salad, horseradish and Easter bread. The special bread is a slightly sweet, braided bread that is sometimes sprinkled with raisins. Another part of the Hungarian tradition is feeding hens the crumbs from the special bread, which is supposed to help them lay even more eggs.
The Easter bunny is also a part of the secular celebrations. Children receive baskets of eggs and chocolate bunnies as treats, similar to our American secular tradition.
The custom that we have found most unusual is that of "sprinkling". It is a very popular tradition, which is usually celebrated on Easter Monday. On this day, boys and men playfully sprinkle water or perfume on girls and women (generally on their hair) and ask for an egg or a kiss. The tradition is that when the men sprinkle the women, they are wishing for them to have a fruitful life and have many children. It is a good idea to carry chocolate eggs or treats to offer to the men if you wish to avoid a lot of kissing!
Usually, we enjoy going to the Budapest Easter Market, which is similar to the Christmas Market. It is on a large square in downtown Budapest. There are plenty of decorated eggs and other Easter-themed crafts, as well as other traditional Hungarian foods like kurtoskalacs (pictured on the right), fried sausages, roasted meats and hot apple juice. This year, unfortunately, it is not operating due to the coronavirus. We will look forward to next year!