It’s Easter, so get out your cologne!
No? Well, this Easter Monday, Hungarian men and boys throughout the country and in Transylvania will be reaching for cologne.
Long ago, there was a pagan tradition of males spraying females with water to symbolize fertilization and the watering of spring flowers. And, you can probably surmise, their interest. That tradition has slowly evolved into males visiting female friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors and spraying their hair and clothing with cologne.
What do the men get in return? Easter eggs, food, and drink. Young boys will also get chocolate and money.
What do the women and girls get? The opportunity to stay at home and be sprinkled with cologne. Not quite a fair trade in my opinion and a bit too much of a passive, traditional gender roleplay for me, but it’s not my culture and it seems to work for those who participate.
Hungarians also paint eggs for Easter, although saying “paint eggs” seems like an understatement. It’s quite an art form. The traditional color is red, representing life and blood, but other colors have infiltrated the custom.
Every year, Budapest holds a spring market over Eastertime. This month-long fair features Hungarian-made products, traditional food and drink, and entertainment programs. There’s also a two-day Easter celebration at the castle with similar offerings and opportunities to learn Easter egg painting methods and participate in traditional games.
Last year, my parents visited over Easter—maybe the first time they’ve been away from home over the holiday. Although not Catholic, we attended the service at St. Stephen’s Basilica, which ended with the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Just beautiful. Then I treated them to Easter dinner at none other than Jack’s Burger.
Why such a place on Easter? One, it was one of the few places open. Two, it was close to the Basilica. Three, I wanted them to have a Mangalica burger. Hey, it’s just like having ham for Easter. Kind of.
This year, I’ll be spending Easter in Amsterdam at a writing conference. I wonder what I’ll have for Easter dinner.
For those who celebrate the holiday, Happy Easter! Now, men, go get that cologne.