Eternal mayflies

The life of the mayfly is in itself a symbol. The deep symbolism of the animal itself and the blooming of the River Tisza that they are involved in has inspired many artists.

In the springtime when the Tisza blooms with flowers,
Thousands of butterflies play over the water,
None of them live for long, when I count to a hundred,
The river turns from bloom into a cemetery.

Our love is also like those mayflies,
No sooner is it born that it withers away
But my two eyes are bathed in many tears
I long for the Tisza when it is in bloom.

Hungarian song


The River Tisza is in bloom – that is the name we have given to the mating period of the mayflies. The Hungarian language uses the words that refer to the mayfly, also known as the ephemeron, as a synonym for anything that is very short-lived. This annual phenomenon is a beautiful, lyrical spectacle that has also become a part of Hungarian folk stories and folk songs.

Yet the briefness of the animal’s life is illusory: it spends the greatest part of its life particularly invisibly, under the water’s surface, but it has only been immortalised by its brief mating season. In the towns along the River Tisza, a great many sculptures and statues pay homage to the mayfly, and many buildings, hotels and stores also bear its name. At Szolnok, it also lent its name to a new bridge over the River Tisza, built in 2010.

The Mayfly Bridge at Szolnok carries pedestrian and bicycle traffic


A statue has also been erected in the insect’s honour in the same place. But Szolnok is not the only place where the mayfly is held in great esteem, as there is also a sculpture about mayflies in the park of the medicinal baths at Magyarkanizsa.


Another sculpture of mayflies can be seen by visitors on the bank of the River Tisza in Szeged.




The painter Nóra Gógucz has also been inspired by the lives of mayflies, as shown by her painting ‘Tisza flower’.