The Watering of the Girls

An Easter tradition in Hungary involves throwing buckets of water on young women of marriageable age. Really. On the day after Easter, known as Easter Monday, the women dress up in traditional clothing, and young men dowse them with water in a custom called “the watering of the girls.”

The custom isn’t limited to Hungary. In Hungary, the ritual is called Vízbevető. In Poland, it’s known as Śmigus-Dyngus. There are variations in other Eastern European countries as well. In some places, you don’t need to dress up to get wet; in others, a little spritz of perfume replaces the drenching. Sometimes the dowsing is accompanied by poetry reading or symbolic “whipping” with pussy willows. Traditionally, the girls are supposed to return the favor on Tuesday, but in reality, all the shenanigans go on the same day.  

This is supposed to be a pre-Christian cleansing ritual to promote fertility, but it cannot be all that fun for the women. I sure hope it’s warm in Hungary this Easter! See pictures of modern-day waterings at Buzzfeed.

(Image credit: Boston Public Library)

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