All countries and people around the world have their own traditions and habits. Northern people’s habits are strange to people living South for example. That being said, Hungary is kind of unique and distinct in its customs and the habits of people living here. There are some things about Hungary the whole world finds strange or just simply disturbing. In this article, we aimed to collect some additional habits, customs and traditions that might be totally unusual to many people but Hungarians.
We have mentioned this in the previous instalment of strange Hungarian habits, but for many foreigners, this might be the most unusual or even straight-up grossest thing they will encounter in Hungary. As Lifey’s video points out, Hungarians do not really sniffle but rather we blow our noses in public. There is probably a reason that it wants to come out of there, you just should not try and hold it in. It is a usual sight in Hungary that someone blows their nose on the bus or on the streets or even during a meeting or at a restaurant. If you see a tourist family somewhere around the world where the mother is loaded with packets of tissue papers and would give them out to whatever family member needs it, there is a real good chance that they are Hungarians. Of course, the pandemic has changed a few things and you might not encounter this habit just that often.
If you ever try to sit down on anything cold in Hungary, you might hear this from your acquaintances or from really any random Hungarian, but mostly from old women and especially if you are a female yourself. This means that they care about you; it approximately translates to “you are going to get a cold (bottom)”. Hungarians are kind of cautious about sitting on cold surfaces because you might get a cold, or your urinary system might get upset, or in the case of young women and girls, it might be bad for their eggs. Mothers and grandmothers often tell young children this, especially their daughters and granddaughters, but they might tell any random person this from kindness. Be cautious about your health!
Being a Hungarian myself, I have not really noticed this, but according to a blogger from Panama, Hungarians can look rather serious or maybe even sombre on the streets. Some people also say that Hungarians are rather stoic or negative, but I think it is not really true. Rather, we just do not smile for anyone. Hungarians are honest and we do not really like to veil our true feelings, but if you get emotionally closer to a Hungarian, they are certainly going to smile, we just do not really give away our smile to anyone.
The blogger from Panama also mentioned that it was strange for him that Hungarians take off their shoes in the anteroom or when entering someone’s house or apartment. We usually walk in our own houses in just socks. In my household, for example, you can even walk barefoot if that is more comfortable. Hungarians just do not like to bring the dirt and anything else that might be on the shoes into the entire house and in many places the host might offer you slippers to put on your feet. Also, when you visit a Hungarian in their homes, they will show you around the house or apartment, especially if they are proud of their home. You are not just going to get introduced to the people, but also to the home itself.
There are plenty of strange habits concerning food in Hungary and there are many weird dishes even. If you would like to know more about Hungary’s most unusual dishes, you can read these articles:
It depends on what you consider chivalric. Usually, when a Hungarian couple goes somewhere, the man should enter first, especially if it is a place they have never been to before. If they often visit a place, the man can open the door for the woman and let her in first, but usually, it should be the man that enters first, checking if it is safe while holding the door from the inside for the woman to come in. Also, when a couple walks, the woman is on the right side of the man. I have not known the origin of this myself, but it is a natural thing for me. Apparently, according to Renato Calcagno, the reason for this is that a sword’s holster is on the left, so the man can better defend his partner on the right side if needed. According to others, women in Hungary walk on the right side of their partner, because only courtesans walk on the left side of a man.
In Hungary, there are several ways your friends can greet you. Not necessarily, but usually, girls and women will hug you or if you are really close to someone they might give you a kiss on the cheeks (only the sides of faces touching). When meeting someone for the first time or meeting with other men, there is the handshake, but there are some things to keep in mind, or you might look rude. You need to touch hands bare-skinned. If you have anything on your hand that you can remove, remove it before you shake hands, otherwise it is considered rude. Also, you should not be sitting while shaking hands. You should at least lift your bottom off the chair when shaking hands and also, eye contact is important.
For some more interesting culture-shocks, you should watch this video: