Madar, a Hungarian Village in Slovakia

Easter in MadárAfter World War I and the fall of the Hapsburg Empire parts of Eastern Europe were chopped up by the Treaty of Trianon. Prime cuts went to the winners and Hungary lost 2/3 of its territory and 1/3 of its population. This left substantial ethnic enclaves on the wrong side of borders. Some people migrated; others stayed and made the best of it.

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Google Bookshelf of Hungarian Social History

Google Books is my new favorite bookshelf. Searching for accounts of life in 19th century Austro-Hungary to  fill in the context of lives of our ancestors,  I have added several dozen free volumes to my reading list that were all published in the 1800s or very early 1900s. There are more contemporary volumes available for download for a nominal price. I’ll look at those later when I finish with the current virtual tower of books.

all books row 1

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Easter Monday Sprinkling?

Easter Monday Sprinkling is an old Hungarian custom. Young men would sprinkle cologne or water on the ladies of their fancy, often extended to all the women in the house or the village. Mother told of a Canadian boyfriend who upon hearing of the tradition showed up at their house and woke the family at the crack of dawn on Easter Monday with a bottle of perfume to be the first to sprinkle her. A sweet gesture not much appreciated by her tired parents. 

Apparently some communities take it quite a bit further, drenching the girls with buckets of water.

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photo from sulekha.com

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Legeslegmegengesztelhetetlenebbeknek

Fiume Harbor about 1900

Fiume Harbor about 1900

Hungarian has been described as the most difficult language to learn.  That might be an exaggeration, but, the agglutinative (little bits of words all stuck together) nature of the Magyar tongue can be daunting. For a while under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Adriatic port city of Fiume was a free state managed by a Hungarian governor. The Hungarians required anyone wanting a position in the government to learn Hungarian. Most of those interested were Italian speakers who found the requirement impossible.

They expressed their opinion in this word scribbled on the walls: ‘Legeslegmegengesztelhetetlenebbeknek’. It means ‘To the most unreasonable ones’. And, no. I’ve tried. I can’t pronounce it.