Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Ham and Easter Customs in Hungary

In Hungary there are many different traditions around Easter country by country. I like all of them in spite of Easter is always confused me, because it's originally a Christian religious holiday and we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. And as I had already written it I originates from a half Jewish family and in my childhood the Easter was that the Christian Holiday, which we never really used to celebrate. So Easter is a little bit complicated to me.

Hungarian home-made ham.
Beáta's photo is the first what I've invited from the new thread of the Hungary starts here pool (on flickr site). Read her comment:

"The Easter approaches. The ham is one of the characteristic foods of the Easter. We do a home-made ham in all years. A friend of ours does it punctual it he together with a ham. Days puts salt on it and turns the meats. He smokes it then. We like this better what it is possible to receive in the shop. Our relatives and our friends get him from him always."

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 :)

Easter Bunny has arrived (2007)
Photo: Nóra

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 cabbage and bake beigli (pastry rolls with walnut or poppy seed stuffing) not just for Christmas but for Easter too.

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.

happy Easter
Photo: gdraskoy

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
Photo: Nóra

I wish you Happy Easter!



JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Hi Nora! This is the first Hungarian food blog on The Foodie Blogroll! Welcome!

Thank you for sharing your beautiful traditions with us! Those painted Easter eggs are beautiful!

OLED said...

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the OLED, I hope you enjoy. The address is A hug.

Sekar Kedaton said...

Very interesting Easter story. What a lovely Easter Eggs!! Nice.

Jauzi@Raihan said...

intereting writing.. great..

Martha said...

Those Easter eggs are really lovely. I didn't realize Hungarians dyed them also. Just knew about the Ukrainians. My sister has an egg dying party each year. You can see photos on her blog:


mary said...

Does anyone out there have the same tradition that our family has. We do not eat any meat on during Lent until 12:00 Sat. the day after Good Friday. We have ham eggs and kilbasi. which is cut up and put on one large plate in the center of the table. We all have our own forks but we eat from the same plate. We also have horseradish, sweet bread, and kaluckies (sma;; pastry cakes and cottage cheese cakes) I would like to know if there are others that do this. Our grandparents never explain why we do this. this is just how they had done it in their family in Hungary.