Discuss as:

Annual 'watering of the girls' goes back centuries

Jonathan Woods writes: Each year around Easter, a handful of Hungarians take part in a tradition dating back to 2nd century AD. Donning traditional garb, boys and girls take to the streets for what they call the "watering of the girls."

It's a fertility ritual from a pre-Christian time in Hungarian tribes, where boys throw buckets of water of young girls running past them.

Attila Kisbenedek / AFP - Getty Images

School girls in traditional clothes of the 'Matyo' minority prepare for traditional Easter celebrations on April 21.

Attila Kisbenedek / AFP - Getty Images

Local school girls, wearing the traditional clothes of the 'Matyo' minority, react as boys throw water on them east of Budapest on Thursday, April 21. Locals from northeast Hungary celebrate Easter with the traditional "watering of the girls," a fertility ritual rooted in Hungary's tribal pre-Christian past, going as far back as the second century AD.

Bela Szandelszky / AP

A bucket of water is poured onto a Matyo minority girl dressed in traditional clothing in Mezokovesd, central Hungary on April 21.

Attila Kisbenedek / AFP - Getty Images

Boys throw water on girls in Mezokovesd, east of Budapest, Hungary, on April 21.

In response to a comment below from Cassandra we took time to dig up some additional information on the Matyo people.

The most in-depth information we found was via a Hungarian folk art site.

Although the "watering of the girls" celebrations don't appear to be confined to one geographic region, The Matyo are said to be located in Northern Hungary in the settlements of Mezökövesd, and two smaller villages, Szentistván and Tard.

Folk Art Hungary says "The Matyo area is united and distinguished from the other settlements of the region by the colourful costumes and famous folklore art... Their lives are tightly interwoven with tradition... Mezökövesd earned its nationwide reputation based on its unique costumes and free-hand embroidery style." 

Bela Szandelszky / AP

Matyo minority boys dressed in traditional clothing prepare for a Hungarian Easter tradition, when boys pour buckets of water on girls in Mezokovesd, central Hungary.