Locsolkodás (“Pouring” day) happens on the Monday after Easter. That morning, the young men will pour water or perfume on the girls. Modern versions of this ritual involve going to the women in the household and reciting a short poem to them, after which you offer them “the sprinkling” in the form of a spritz of water or perfume.
Here is an example of one of the poems that are commonly told:
Zöld erdőben jártam
Kék ibolyát láttam,
El akart hervadni,
Zöld → Green / erdőben → in the forest / jártam → I went,
Kék → Blue / ibolyát → violets / láttam → I saw,
El → Away / akart → wanted / hervadni → to wither,
Szabad-e → Is it free / locsolni → to water?
I was walking in the green forest,
And I saw blue violets,
They wanted to wither,
Am I allowed to water you?
The informant participated in this tradition when they were living as a child in Hungary. He explained how the “sprinkling” represented a flowering of youth, vitality, and good fortune for women. He also explained how versions of this tradition have become more tame over time, factoring in an element of consent, whereas earlier versions were more aggressive and less pleasant.
At its core, I believe the Hungarian “Pouring day” (Locsolkodás) is a fertility ritual. For one, it emphasizes young girls who are experiencing menstruation for the first time. Franciso vaz de Silva associates menstruation with a rose, “the fruitful aspect of womb blood as well as for youth” (245). The poem above also refers to women as “blue violets,” a type of flower. By associating flowers with fertility, it is easy to see why the ritual of “sprinkling” came into practice. It is a way of symbolically blessing a woman’s fertility and the continuation of her menstrual cycles. The fact that men are the ones doing the sprinkling further reinforces the reproductive and gendered nature of this ritual. It is a way of encouraging a woman’s “blooming” when she becomes able to have children. However, what I also find fascinating is how my informant made a point of distinguishing both old and new forms of this tradition. Antiquated versions of the “sprinkling” included dumping a pale of cold water over a woman while she was still asleep, or taking her to a well and dunking her in. However, more modern versions of this tradition involve a poem, which asks for consent (“Am I allowed to water you?”), something that was altogether absent in earlier versions. The introduction of consent in more modern versions of this ritual shows how cultural values and gendered attitudes have shifted over time, where reproductive rights have become a much more prevalent issue in contemporary society. In modern versions of the ritual, Hungarian women are not being forced into a reproductive role, but rather they are first asked if they would like to partake, and only then if they grant their permission does the ritual proceed.