Digging their way to the top, 18 two-man teams of Hungarian gravediggers displayed their skills Friday for a place in a regional championship to be held in Slovakia later this year.
Participants in the contest held in plot 37A of the public cemetery of the eastern Hungarian city of Debrecen were being judged on their speed but also getting points for style [for] the look of the finished grave mounds.
Janos Jonas, 63, who teamed with his son, Csaba, saw the competition run by the Hungarian Association of Cemetery Maintainers and Operators as a sort of last hurrah as he was just a few weeks from retirement.
“We didn’t have to prepare in any special way because we do this every day,” said Jonas, from the nearby village of Hosszupalyi. “This is good earth, quite soft and humid, just right for the event.”
There are, of course, drawbacks to such a competition:
“The hardest part of the job is to deal with the mourners,” said Debrecen gravedigger Laszlo Toth. “But it’s a good job, with good colleagues and a good environment.”
Toth, who won the event with teammate Janos Racz, will compete in a regional race planned to be held in November in Trencin, Slovakia.
This is not the same Laszlo Toth who took a hammer to Michelangelo’s Pietà in 1972 and was subsequently deported to Australia.