Thursday, March 20, 2008

East of Easter

So, it's Maundy Thursday. No idea what that means, but it's the day before Good Friday. At least it is the day before Good Friday for some people. (In Hungarian it's "Big Friday" by the way). Obviously for people outside the christian world, it's not, and also for many people within the christian world it's not either. This is because the orthodox church in the various countries that have one has easter at a different time. It's a sort of strange weekend in Csikszereda and around, then, because while it's easter for "us", it's not easter for most of the country. As far as I can tell Orthodoxers (? - Orthodoxicals? Orthodontists?) refer to the easter that's coming up as "Catholic Easter", on the basis that all christians who are unorthodox are catholic or something. I'm not convinced everyone in Northern Ireland would be totally OK with that distinction.

Last year the easters coincided (though I spent easter in Pakistan, where it wasn't really much of a big deal), but this year the two easters are over a month apart, so while Monday will be pretty much a public holiday in this part of the country, the rest of Romania won't take the day off until sometime at the end of April. Though I read today that a large number of people and most schoolkids in Bucharest will be off for three days at the beginning of April for this NATO summit thing. No idea why. Are they expected to line the streets cheering the arrival of Gordon Brown or something?

We'll be off up to Marosvasarhely for the traditional easter Sunday family dinner, before braving the traditional easter Monday dangerous drive home. Dangerous because the tradition on easter monday is for men to go round visiting all the women they know, read a poem, sprinkle them with scented water, and receive a glass of palinka for their trouble. Thus negotiating the villages in a car on the Monday afternoon with dangerously legless blokes staggering from house to house is always a challenge.


Gadjo Dilo said...

In Cluj/Koloszvár it goes by an even less portable name: The "Hungarian Easter"!

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter holiday to you and your family! :-)

What is Marosvasarhely? :) Is it a place? Is it a family?

I didn't know about the Easter Monday tradition. Do you know who's tradition (region/ Hungarian/religious/...) is and where is it coming from? I love learning about these things...

I am orthodox so I'll celebrate Easter next month.

Andy said...

Marosvasarhely is the Hungarian name for Targu Mures, I usually put both names but today i was too lazy.

The Easter Monday tradition is (I think) a Transylvanian one. I stand to be corrected, but both Hungarians and Romanians here do it, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't happen in Hungary or in other arts of Romania.

Anonymous said...

Well, Romanians use "Catholic/Hungarian Easter" because there are no protestant Romanians. So pretty much everyone who is not orthodox, is catholic. I guess that's the explanation.

Pistefek said...

I read this blog from time to time and have never commented yet but now my pedantic streak compels me to.

The Easter Monday water flinging tradition does go on in Hungary, although perhaps it has died out in the capital. You'll no doubt be able to find people from Hungary who vehemently deny its existence and others who claim it is universal.

I can also attest to it being a widespread custom in Poland, where it has the wonderful name "Smingus Dyngus" - although the poetry reading bit has died out, and its just a water fight, as far as I could tell.

There. Corrected you stand.
Keep up the good munka.

Unknown said...

Yes yes! I too have been blessed to experience 'locsolas' - the sprinkling of the girls! Many times! It may have degenerated, or gobalized to a water fight in Poland but its still an ancient pagan tradition celebrated in Transylvania - to insure fertility to the unmarried girls. Now, I have witnessed a complete 'dousing' of a girl in her bathtub in Sepsiszentgyorgy, but that was in 'the city'. And its true most folks now spray cheap perfume. However, it is a most wonderful time in the Transylvanian Hungarian village - a day complete with music, singing, food and of course, tiszta szilva palinka...but I have also taken part with the reciting of poems and permission from the girls, in villages just outside of Budapest, when I didnt have time to travel to 'Erdely'. Stephen Spinder