Christmas is one of the most important celebrations of the year in Christian Hungary, so we are looking forward to some extraordinary and exciting days soon.
Most of the Hungarian Christmas traditions are gone, but, fortunately, the custom of Advent remains, which is the waiting period beginning four weeks before Christmas and includes the Advent wreath with the four candles (3 purple, one pink). For believers, this means preparation for the most important Christian festival of the year, while it serves as a warning for less religious people to hurry up with the Christmas shopping. The more candles are lit, the closer Christmas is.
It maybe sounds surprising, but the Hungarian Santa Claus, “Mikulás” comes on 6 December, as it is the name day of “Miklós” (Nicholas) according to the Hungarian calendar. It is the day when Mikulás brings children (and adults) smaller gifts and puts them into their polished shoes. Bad kids, however, receive a birch instead.
Christmas presents are brought by Little Jesus or Angel in Hungary, so Hungarian traditions lack the concept of Santa Claus.
It is a simple story: children have to write a wishlist in the form of a letter to Little Jesus, and they receive their gifts due to their behaviour during the past year. In Hungarian families without any young children, adults give minor presents to each other and mostly focus on the pleasure of being together.
Christmas is the celebration of love, as they say, which is obviously right in a sense that families come together in this period and celebrate as one. Nowadays travelling is also related to Christmas, as many emigrated Hungarians come home if they can to meet their friends and family after a long time. People working at different parts of the country return to their families, so Christmas is a travelling holiday for them, too.
Interesting to note that Hungarians give their presents on 24 December, so the custom of unboxing presents on the morning of 25th is not a habit in Hungary. 24 December is dedicated wholly to the celebration: this is when families set up and decorate their Christmas trees, then begin the line of holiday dishes on Christmas Eve, which requires preparation.
Eating plays an important role among Hungarians, too, so it is a rarity that someone can go through Christmas without gaining a couple of kilograms.
This period focuses on traditional Hungarian meals, such as roast pork, stuffed cabbage, delicious freshwater fish and many desserts await for consumption, accompanied by some pálinka and wine. Hungarian Christmas is not a fitness-friendly holiday, but Hungarians don’t mind it. At least there will be something to lose in the gym after the celebration.
When a Hungarian person imagines Christmas time, then, besides the Christmas tree and the full dining table, snow comes to their mind. Unfortunately, Hungary has not witnessed a white Christmas for years, but never mind; it will be white this year! At least we hope so!
Shopping fever does not evade Hungary, either, so the period before Christmas is a total mess, the last days are like chaos unleashed.
But when 24 December comes, the country becomes quiet, shops close, and tranquillity is set upon the people until the morning of 27th. There is no Boxing Day in Hungary, but people do not mind as they get tired of shopping and the mass. The best remedy for this rat race is to spend a pleasant day in one of Hungary’s world-famous baths.
We hope that we managed to condense all the essential information in this summary. If you feel that something was left out, tell us in a comment!
Merry Christmas for All!
Source: Daily News Hungary