Easter in Hungary (Part 2)

by Réka Morvay on April 4, 2012

This is the second in our series examining Easter customs in Hungary. Click here to read the first installment, all about the traditional Easter ham.

Painted eggs aka “hímes tojás”

Eggs are an intrinsic part of Easter practically everywhere with a Christian tradition. Eggs are an ancient symbol of birth and fertility, and also represent familial unity. According to tradition, the family should eat eggs at Easter together because it will help them find each other again, should they lose their way. Also part of the Hungarian tradition is feeding hens the crumbs from the (also traditional) Easter bread, which was supposed to help them lay even more eggs.

You’ve probably seen versions of these uniquely painted eggs all over tourist shops. Well, before they were mass-produced, they used to be hand-painted and gorgeous. Here is a video illustrating how the traditional Hungarian patterns are made using wax. It’s a painstaking technique, but I think we can all agree the results are breathtaking!

The custom of blessing eggs for Easter goes back to the 4th century, and our first written records of decorating eggs for Easter date from the 13th century.

Eggs used to be included in the Lenten prohibition against eating meat, and so by the time Easter rolled around, people had lots of them stockpiled, so they were prepared and consumed in large quantities and the decorated ones were given as gifts.

Specifically, red eggs were given by girls as gifts to the boys who came to sprinkle water or perfume on the girls on Easter Monday, another very unique Hungarian custom at Easter!

Next up: Sprinkling girls with water or perfume on Easter!

 

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