Sprinkling Day in Alsófelsőszentmihály*

Poetry. Perfume. (Lots of perfume.) Coloured eggs and cake. (Lots and lots of cake.)

The ancient custom of “sprinkling” is still practiced in Hungarian villages on Easter Monday. It’s a suit and tie event for men as they set off for a round of visiting the homes of women, bottles of perfume in hand.

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Which, yes, they spray (generously) on the women.

Boys, too, participate — some quite unbridled…
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others following the full custom of preceding the spraying with a recitation.

At each house, the men are rewarded with coloured eggs…

numerous kinds homemade cakes…

and everyone visits over a glass of wine.

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In Alsófelsőzentmihály this year, members of the American UU church partnered with the Szentmihály parish were visiting for Easter and I joined them as they accompanied the men from house to house.

Each visit was an opportunity to experience the generosity of Hungarian hospitality

and to get a glimpse of art of village self sufficiency. From skilled artistry…

newly planted orchards and next year’s sausage…

to off-the-grid hot showers!

Alsó: lower. Felső: upper. Szent: holy. Mihály: – Michael. That is, Alsófelsőszentmihály is just a multi-syllable name resulting from the blending of the villages of Upper and Lower Saint Michael’s. Given the marked vowels, however, I’m still working on the pronunciation.

 

7 thoughts on “Sprinkling Day in Alsófelsőszentmihály*

  1. Fabulous! This seems so clearly the enactment of an ancient fertility ritual sacred to recognition of the feminine aspect of God; it reminds me of other European traditions that have been, and in some cases, still are enacted around the egg — symbol pf the eternal life in which we all partake. Wonderful that you could share in this!

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  2. The cakes and the showers are awesome, but I’m afraid all that perfume would have me sneezing non-stop! Fascinating traditions. Love the unbridled boy. 😬

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  3. What a great posting. I hope I never encounter the name of that town in a spelling bee! SUCH an interesting custom, and such good text and photos to show it … and that you were there at the same time as a New York Times reporter. How cool is that? How wonderful for you to be invited into the homes of these local people. Yes, I can see that everyone is dressed in their best clothes, even the children. Whew, no place for a person with scent sensitivities! Besides washing their hair multiple times, it looks like clothes would need to be washed to get out the smell. I love the dyed eggs. What a great idea to hold leaves against the eggs with pieces of stocking, and then to boil them with onion skins. I love the off-the-grid hot shower, and the proud look on the man with the newly planted orchard and ‘next year’s sausage’. Oink oink!

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