“You celebrate Easter just on Sunday in America, right? We celebrate Easter for two days in Hungary, Sunday and Monday. On Easter Monday, there is a thing called sprinkling. Usually all of the males in the family will visit all of the females in their family or in the neighborhood. They will go up women and tell them poems about sprinkling, sometimes not so appropriate poems, and asking if they can water the girls like a flower. Smaller boys will sometimes throw water on the girls because it is more fun. The girls want to show themselves off as popular and to have more water thrown on them or more cologne sprayed on them to show that a lot of boys like them. The older men mostly will just spray the women with cologne to symbolize the sprinkling. By the end of the day, the women will most likely smell of a lot of different cologne. The women will cook for 3 or 4 days leading up Monday to prepare to feed the men that day.”
My informant was born in Hungary and lived there until she was 17 years old. She remembers vividly celebrating the Easter holidays with the sprinkling just as much as Americans associate their childhood Easters with decorating eggs and going on an Easter egg hunt. She remembers that as a child, it was just a fun day where boys could splash girls with water and the girls would feel special to receive the attention. As she grew older, it turned into almost a shy flirting mechanism, where the boys would spray the girls they liked with their cologne. It was always remembered as a joyous occasion.
This Hungarian holiday has many subliminal connotations. The poems that the boys read to the girls asking if they can water them like a flower represent fertility. Watering a flower is like preparing a woman for childbirth. Then, when males spray the women with their cologne, it represents them marking their territory. It also perhaps shows that the Hungarian culture is a patriarchal one, since males can spray their cologne on as many women as they want, whereas the women don’t really have a say in who sprays them. In return, the women even cook for days on end to feed the men who spray them that day, so as to thank them for blessing them with their cologne and attention.