April 24th, the day of St. George, is the most important day for animal breeders in Hungary. They considered this as the first day of spring, and this was the time they let the herds out on to the pastures from their ‘winter homes’. This was the time for hiring herdsmen as well as judging the sheep (with this they could estimate how much milk the sheep will produce and this was the basis for pre-calculating the amount of cheese the herdsmen had to account for in the fall).
The day had some magic traditions as well, e.g. cows were led on chains through eggs, representing that by fall they should be as strong as the chain and shaped like an egg. On this day herdsmen and the herds are driven over the famous “bridge with the 9 holes” – the symbol of the Hortobágy area on the great plain.
The pictures show the “racka” sheep (with the long, spiraled horn), the ancient grey cattle, the traditional clothes of the Csikós herdsmen, and the decorative coat called “cifraszűr”.
Many thanks to Szarka Peter for sharing this with us! -Mama Lisa
A flock of Racka sheep by Tragopan
– Own work, cc.
Hungarian Grey cows in Hortobágy National Park,
The Nine-holed Bridge by Lily15