With the arrival of spring comes the traditions associated with rebirth, renewal and fertility. In the Christian faith, this time is all about the resurrection of Christ and the feast which celebrates it each year, but many traditions pre-date Christianity, but were adopted under Christianity and so still continue today.
The tradition of egg painting is one such example, practiced since pagan times and continued within the Christian faith, all across Europe. The painting of eggs, which is a fertility tradition, symbolizes eternal life, and the color red was adopted to symbolize Christ’s blood. In more recent times other colours, patterns (often flower designs) and styles have emerged, with differing methods of manufacture and materials used, for example the Chocolate egg was introduced in Hungary by confectioners in the 19th century.
Today the most commonly produced eggs have stylized flower painting and is a folkart in Hungary.
In Debrecen there is usually Easter handicraft activities for children, including painting eggs with traditional artisan techniques at Tímárház –The Artisans’ House (Debrecen, Nagy Gál István utca 6).
If finding eggs is more your thing than making them, there is usually an Easter egg hunt at the nearby Hortobágy Bird Park (Hortobágy, Petőfi tér 6) along with other bird related activities like feeding, a falcon show and a bird feather identification competition, and yes handicrafts are available too (often including egg making).
If the idea of traveling an hour to the Hortobagy wildlife park doesn’t appeal, then there is always the centrally located Debrecen Zoo, which also has an Easter egg hunt and many other fun activities besides, including animal feeding and handicrafts which often includes egg making.
During Easter the National Circus comes to town, so its well worth checking out their schedule if it sounds appealing to you and your family.
With respects to fertility, Easter is a period known for courtship and in Hungary, one particular tradition stands out, the spraying or splashing of water on women by men. This tradition known as locsolkodás, loosely translated as the ‘sprinkling the womenfolk’, is still practised in countryside towns and is an excuse for a bit of fun by boys and men alike. Males often visit the womenfolk, taking it as a challenge to catch girls off guard with a surprise spraying, and so it often comes at the expense of girls and women, who although expecting it are often still surprised, but can only can feign outrage.
The girls respond by offering the men painted eggs, or a shot of strong palinka along with homemade confectionaries.
In Hungary, the menu for feast day typically comprises of ham or lamb and boiled eggs, although ham is usually first consumed on the evening before, – Saturday evening. One firm favorite in Hungary is pickled horseradish as a spicy accompaniment to the lamb, another traditional food for Easter Sunday.