USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘perfume’
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Easter Tradition in Hungary

Background about Informant:

Anna is a 22-year-old exchange student from Hungary, studying business at USC. She was born and raised in Budapest and has knowledge of many facts and traditions of Hungary.

 General Description from Informant:

“We have a strange Easter tradition when boys have to pour water/perfume on girls – they do it with a bucket of water on the countryside but in cities people usually spray perfume. I personally always hated this tradition. Especially because by the end of the day, girls usually smell like a perfume store – never wash your hair the day before! And when I was around 6 my best friend’s friend who came to water her poured a whole bottle of perfume into my face by accident and it all went into my eyes. It was as pleasant as you can imagine.

The guys have to say or learn or write a rhyme “I went to this forest and found this flower, can I water this flower?” and the girl is the flower. And then they spray perfume or water on you.

Either the rhymes are sexual for teenage guys or kind of cute/dumb for non-teenagers. And it’s really cute when little boys remember the rhymes.”

Follow-up Questions:

  • Where/who did you learn it from?
    • “My parents when I was a kid, we always do this.”
  • What does it mean to you?
    • “I don’t like it because of the perfume. But it’s normal because it’s part of the Easter tradition. I’m fine when it
  • Why do males throw water on females and not vice versa?
    • “In the countryside, guys did everything. Also part of guys meeting girls and meeting your wife, and of course the girl is the flower and not the guy. How else would they meet the girls otherwise?”
  • What do you think this festival symbolizes?
    • “Something about fertility but I don’t know. But maybe it’s just a nice thing too.”
  • Who are the participants?
    • “Guys of all ages – even the grandfathers. And women of all ages too.”

 Analysis from Collector:

I think this Easter Tradition found in Hungary is in line with many other Spring/Easter festivals found around the world. Spring festivals usually revolve around new life, reproduction, and fertility. In the Hungarian Easter tradition the woman represents the flower and the guys represent the fertilizing or stimulant. The flower represents virginity and fertility, while the watering represents the fertilizing of a flower and stimulating growth. Simply, it represents sexual intercourse between men and women for reproductive purposes.

The fact that the grandfathers and older women take part in the tradition seems a little strange, as fertility is usually centered on a younger generation. This part of the tradition may have changed with the times for everyone to participate and have fun. However, I believe the tradition started in the countryside as a way for men and women to meet each other and ultimately lead to reproduction.

Folk speech
general
Humor

whore’s bath

“So a whore’s bath, it sounds funny but it means I don’t have time to take a shower but I’ll just douse myself in perfume, maybe some deodorant. Ya you put on ALOT of perfume and it’s funny because people think you smell really great but you haven’t even showered! So back in the olden day I guess it just meant, I don’ think people could really shower that often and they just had oils and aromas so that’s probaly where it came from historyically. But i learned it from my cousin Neghan. She’s Megan with an ‘H’. I don’t know if this really adds to the story but she’s the one who was my fake ID when I was younger so she was like my cool cousin. I was fake 24 for a real long time. She was my older cousin and older is therefore cool. She always said whore’s bath but I never knew what it was. Some of my other cousins said it too and my Aunt Yaya too. Aunt Yaya smoked alot of grass. *laughs*. I heard this term growing up but now as a 22 year old who is far less ashamed to ask a question, we were in Vegas, cuz we were driving across the country. And in Vegas you don’t have alot of time for showering and so she suggested that I take a ‘whore’s bath’ and I said ‘Well i don’t really know what that means.’ I may have also been a little intoxicated. She said ‘Just throw on a bunch of perfume and some deodorant and go!’ So that’s how I learned about it and I do it all the time *laughs*.”

I personally had never heard of this term. I did some research but I didn’t find anything concrete. It means different things to different people. For some it is similar to a sponge bath. For others it is to only clean the ‘critical’ areas, especially after sexual intercourse. There are several other variations on the definition.

I thought that the inclusion of perfume in my participants definition was interesting. Perfume is often used to heighten physical attraction and to attract a mate. Due to the sexual nature of the use of perfume or even more so the pronounced use of it can be associated with prostitutes.

Also, I found it notable that her use of “whore’s bath” was light and playful in nature. I would assume that even a few decades ago if someone had used the word ‘whore’ towards a women in any way it would be considered an insult. I think this points to the overtly sexual nature of American culture, where women call each other whore’s jokingly and do not use the word in a literal sense and maybe even in a complimentary way.

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