Easter is one of the most important public and religious holidays in Budapest and Hungary. Hungarian people are for the most part, very religious and tradition-loving. Therefore it's no wonder that Easter celebrations in the Hungarian Capital and elsewhere are always a big deal.

Probably the fact that this holiday is held in spring, a time where the snow has usually melted and the climate is milder also contributes to its popularity. It's a time of rebirth, the moment to step out and enjoy the sights, sounds and fragrance of the new season.

 If you're in Budapest this time of year you'll get the chance to be a part of many interesting traditions. Unlike some other countries where Easter Sunday is the big holiday, in Hungary the entire week leading to Easter is equally important. Good Friday and Saturday, the "preparation days" are for many people even more important than the actual Easter Sunday. 

One of the things you'll notice is that in the 48 hours leading to Holy Saturday, is that there won't be a single church bell ringing in Budapest or anywhere in Hungary. Tradition dictates that this is the time when "the church bells go to Rome", grieving the death of Jesus Christ. Long before modern technology took hold, children were entrusted to act as a substitute for the missing bells and they could be seen wandering villages with a "kereplő" a special clapper normally used to scare birds away.

Another things you'll see walking in and around Váci Street, are the beautiful, multi-colored handcrafted eggs.You'll find plenty of them also at the Easter Market on Vörösmarty square . While the Palm tree branch symbolizes Easter in most Mediterranean countries, in Hungary, where it's way too cold for this type of plants the grey willow is used instead. In most household this peculiar looking plant with grey catkins resembling cotton buds is decorated with those beautiful hand-painted eggs much like a Christmas tree.

Egg painting is definitely a favorite activity for children this time of year. In any supermarket you'll find, special coloring ink, to make your Easter Eggs (traditionally consumed on Holy Saturday along with a very tasty ham) stand out with bright, bold colors.

For all the ladies visiting, don't be surprised if on Easter Monday you'll be approached by a Hungarian man with a bottle of perfume in his hand. He is most likely trying to involve you in the Hungarian tradition of "Easter Sprinkling". According to this men go "pay tribute" to the ladies they know by reciting Easter-themed rhymes and spraying them with some perfume. If you don't like the smell of this perfume, you should remember that traditionally sprinkling didn't involve fragrance but s bucket of cold water! If you want to see a reenacting of this tradition consider paying a visit to the village of Hollókő, a UNESCO Wolrd Heritage Site 90 kms north of Budapest, where you can witness this custom every Easter Monday.

As always there will be many events planned around this time of year in and around Budapest. These are some of the most noteworthy:


April 1st and 2nd

VajdaHunyad Castle is located in the beautiful City Park, which also hosts the majestic Széchenyi baths, the Zoo and an artificial lake used as ice rink in winter. This Easter it will be hosting the Lamb Festival for the 2nd time in a row. It will be a great opportunity to taste traditional Hungarian dishes and children will also have plenty of activities to choose from. There will be animals to pet, craft workshops to attend and even chocolate making,


March 30th until April 2nd

The majesticl neo-Renaissance palaces of the Várkert Bazaar (Castle Garden) host a 3-day festival with lots of concerts and family programs over the Easter holiday.


March23th until April 22th

This square in the heart of Budapest hosts some of the best seasonal markets in town. The month-long Easter/Spring Fair, not unlike the Christmas Market is a great place to find local handicrafts and sample some delicious Hungarian delicacies like roasted meats, fried sausages, kürtöskalács and lángos.

Pictures courtesy of Top Budapest.

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