christmas, traditions, new york

The New York Hungarian Advent Festival starts on December 7th and lasts until December 9th. Both the Hungarian House in New York and the open-air museum in Szentendre have contributed to the organisation of the event. The title of the exhibition is “Angel’s music, candlelight” – the Christmas of old times.

During the festival, whoever is interested can learn about Hungarian Christmas traditions and customs – it is even possible to experience them firsthand – reports Turizmus. The event will take place in New York’s Hungarian House, the only active Hungarian cultural centre where Hungarian culture is shown to the public through concerts, film screenings, talks, entertaining shows, folk dance performances, exhibitions as well as friendly gatherings.

Hungarian culture is rich in Advent traditions and folklore customs. These four weeks prepare us for Christmas when the birth of Jesus Christ and the importance of love are in the focus. Many of the Hungarian customs are directed at becoming healthy, wealthy and at fertility.

christmas, olden days
Learning about the Christmas of the olden days

One of the things you can learn from this exhibition is what Christmas looked like for peasants. After the four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas, the ‘main event’, some peasant families also had pine trees they decorated, according to German traditions.

An alternative to this was getting a Christmas tree of thorns and wooden strips, covering a simple tree branch in goose quill, decorating geraniums or hanging a juniper branch from the ceiling.

Decorations and candy that went on the tree also played an important part. 

Over the next few days, there will be an opportunity to learn about the history of the Hungarian speciality, the szaloncukor, discover what urban Christmas celebrations used to be like and learn about the techniques of blowing glass ornaments. All this is made even more exciting by the addition of photos, short films, exhibits and interesting appliances related to the Christmas celebration of the olden days as well as the not-so-olden days.

The festival awaits everybody who is interested, from members of New York’s Hungarian community to Americans craving to know more about Hungarian customs. Visitors can enjoy folk dance performances, handcrafting programmes, or folk music concerts, or learn how to make gingerbread Hungarian-style, make folk-style jewellery or get a taste of lacemaking, the “blue-dye” procedure or even weaving straw.

A diverse programme awaits those who are interested, so everyone is bound to find something that will strike their fancy.

As for something to do in Hungary during this time of year, check out this article about a cheerful Santa Claus bus and trolley that will be part of public transport until Christmas comes.

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