Hungarian Gravediggers Compete in National Grave Digging Competition

In an attempt to increase respect for grave digging and attract more people to the job, three dozens of the best gravediggers in Hungary competed in a unique grave digging competition, last Friday.

The bizarre competition took place at a graveyard in the city of Debrecen. 18 two-man teams were assigned their plots arbitrarily by pulling numbers out of a hat, and supplied with regulation-size shovels, rakes, axes and pickaxes to use in digging the best grave in the shortest amount of time. Contestants were judged on speed, grave neatness and whether they complied with the regulation size: 200 cm long, 80 cm wide and 160 cm deep (7 feet by 2 feet 7 inches by 5 feet). Enjoying the home advantage, the local team came out victorious, digging their grave in less than half an hour. That’s pretty impressive considering some of the other teams took almost an hour to complete theirs.

Each team had their own technique. Some preferred to dig simultaneously and clean up after the hole was finished, while others had one man digging and the other arranging the dirt into neat piles around the grave site. They all agreed that the conditions were just right on the big day, with the earth being “quite soft and humid.”


Photo: Off Media

“I don’t think this is morbid,” said Zoltan Juracsik, the Hungarian Undertakers’ Association’s deputy chairman. “This is a profession, and the colleagues who toil in competition today are proud and deserve our respect.” Human gravediggers are still necessary in crowded cemeteries where mechanical diggers can’t fit, but with an increasing number of people choosing cremation over the traditional burial, and young people avoiding manual labor, the profession is under threat. The grave digging contest was meant to make the job more appealing to youth looking for honest work.

“The hardest part of the job is to deal with the mourners,” local gravedigger said. “But it’s a good job, with good colleagues and a good environment.”


Photo: Off Media

“This job chose me,” 21-year-old Csaba Halasz told Reuters. “It’s hard but it’s worth it. Relatives come and thank me every time. The profession just lured me in.” His grave digging career started as a summer job after high school, but he stayed in the business even after graduating college with a degree in physical education.

The winning team will now go on to represent Hungary in a regional competition to be held in Slovakia later this year.


Sources: BBC, Off Media

Posted in News        Tags: , , , ,