Adolescence and adult life

In Hungary, boys and girls were considered adolescents from the age of 12 to 14. This meant that although they were not yet considered adults, they were no longer considered children. It was around this time that boys slowly began to learn the ways of men, under the guidance of their fathers. The girls did the same with their mothers, learning the household chores of weeding, cooking, weaving, braiding and even „fonó” (spinning).

In the „fonó”, they could work and weave the hemp together, and there was also a communal process where young and old alike had fun, talked, sang and told stories. There were also dancing „fonó”, where the lads would come and dance, so it was a great opportunity to get to know each other.

When the boys and girls entered adolescence, they were ‘initiated’. The rite of initiation varied from village to village and from region to region. Some of them had a religious flavour (e.g. the imitation of baptism), but the knighthood was also a parodic process. Reliable sources of knighthoods are only available from the Kisalföld, Western Transdanubia, Transylvania and the Highlands.

After the initiation, boys were entitled to visit girls’ houses, take them to dances, go to pubs, etc. from the age of 16, or 18 in other places, as ‘siheder’.
The ‘süldő’ girls were allowed to enter the world of the young after they were invited to dinner at the age of 14 or 15. They then became vendors, i.e. they entered the field of matchmaking. Girls did not form as strong a group as boys, but were more likely to be related girls living in the same street. They attended „fonó”, weddings and balls together, and this was an opportunity for them to get to know the opposite sex and choose a partner.

Dóra Horváth

1. Photo above: „Süldő” girls at Transylvania

2. Young boys