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Easter 2018 and 2019

Good Friday and Easter Monday are major holidays in Hungary, and there are many customs practiced that are associated with the paschal season. In 2018, Good Friday falls on 30 March and Easter Monday on 2 April.

201830 MarFriGood Friday
2 AprMonEaster Monday
201919 AprFriGood Friday
22 AprMonEaster Monday
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Hungary’s Easter customs tend to be more cultural than religious and often celebrate the onset of spring. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues 40 days until the fast is broken on Easter Sunday. Meat is not to be consumed during Lent, and the eve of Ash Wednesday is called “Hushagyo Kedd” (meat-abandoning Tuesday).

On Palm Sunday, it was once common for both branches and flowers to be blessed by the priests. Nowadays, the various flowers are still mentioned in prayers during church ceremonies, and Palm Sunday is still known as “Flower Sunday” in Hungary.

On Holy Saturday, people bring baskets full of “kalacs” (Easter Bread), red-dyed eggs, and salt to church so a priest can bless the food, which is then taken home and eaten for dinner after the midnight Resurrection service. These services will have various Easter songs, prayers, and sometimes, processions with statutes of Jesus.

Egg Painting

In Hungary, egg painting is a tradition that derives from times prior even to the arrival of the Magyars. After Hungary became Christian, eggs were dyed red to symbolize the shed blood of Christ, and the eggs themselves were said to represent everlasting life.

For the last 300 years or so, however, eggs have been dyed other colours besides red. Easter egg decoration is a veritable art form in Hungary. Geometric designs, shapes of plants and flowers, and patterns taken from traditional Hungarian embroidery are most common. Sometimes, very ancient designs like sun-wheels and young cocks are also used.

One method used to decorate the eggs is by using wax, applied with a quill, to paint a pattern on the egg. The egg is then dyed and then warmed until the wax melts off. Another method is to dye the egg first and then scrape dye off at points to effectively “engrave” a pattern. This method often involves boiling the eggs in onion peels to make them dark brown and then shining them up by rubbing them with bacon.

Easter Events

Anyone visiting Hungary around Easter time should consider attending major Easter and cultural events such as the following:

  • The Budapest Easter Market, which features handicrafts and traditional Hungarian cuisine like kalacs, roast meats, and fried sausages.
  • Another Easter Market in Budapest’s Museum of Ethnography on Palm Sunday, where you will find crafts, egg-painting activities, and various other events for kids.
  • Easter events in Buda Castle, including: craft workshops, egg painting, a petting zoo, folk music and dances, and exposure to Hungarian artwork and cultural traditions.
  • At the Budapest Zoo and at the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture you will find Easter exhibits, programs, and celebrations. Both the zoo and the museum are located in the City Park.
  • In the Mohacs District, on the southern border of Hungary, you can witness “busojaras.” Men put on devil masks and march through the village, making a loud racket, and symbolically frighten away the Turks. This is based on the legend of how the locals once scared the Turkish invaders off by wearing grotesque monster masks.