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How did they spend Easter Monday in Transylvania? Glad you asked.

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Check this out, from The New York Times:

Young men in Sancraieni have risen early on Easter Monday for as long as anyone can remember. So have the women and girls — to be soaked in ice-cold water and sprayed with patchouli.

“Sprinkling” is a spring rite in the heart of Transylvania, in central Romania, when women are watered like flowers. The water, freshly drawn from a well, is believed to secure health, beauty and perhaps even love for the women who find themselves beneath a bucketful of it.

On Monday morning, about two dozen young men in traditional attire — high black boots, black hats, white shirts and cream-colored trousers resembling riding breeches — gathered at the home of Koppany Gal, 23, who works at a hospital. Beer and snacks were already on the table.

“It’s an important event for us,” said Mr. Gal, who has helped organize the sprinkling group in the village for nine years. Like the other men there that day, he attends a folk dance club that revives lost traditions in this part of the world.

The men set off under gray clouds, marching through streets of single-story houses with red clay rooftops. Some carried traditional instruments; all of them were singing. They could expect to eat and drink well that day: Girls and their mothers around the village typically spend the weekend preparing pastries, drinks and snacks, including eggs colored red. The men would be welcome to all of it, all day.

At the houses where they stopped, young women in red, black and white folkloric dress came out to listen. The men would recite a poem ending, “May I pour?”

After one woman consented with a cheerful if predictable “yes,” two men held her as a third threw cold water from a bucket rimmed with red carnations.

…The tradition of dousing people with water is not limited to Transylvania. It crosses Central and Eastern Europe, differing between Romania and Poland, encompassing Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine.

In Poland, the day is called Wet Monday. Elsewhere in Europe, there are water bombs and pistols; firefighters have even been seen using fire hoses. Girls in some regions receive playful strokes with a young willow branch; the boys get water thrown at them the next day.

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Deacon Greg Kandra
Headlines and Homilies
Deacon Greg Kandra is a Roman Catholic deacon in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. For nearly three decades, he was a writer and producer for CBS News, where he contributed to a variety of programs and was honored with every major award in broadcasting. Deacon Greg now serves as Multimedia Editor for Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA.) He and his wife live in Forest Hills, New York.
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