Hungarian traditions: the beginning of the Carnival season and spring
Do you know what the 6th of January is notable for? It is for Epiphany that marks the beginning of the Carnival season, or Farsang in Hungarian, which is full of joy and gladness. However, the day of Epiphany is also symbolic because it is associated with celebrations organised throughout the world to say goodbye to winter and look forward to the coming spring season. Sokszinuvidek.24.hu reports that this day is an excellent example of the preservation of traditional Hungarian cultural values. A list of essential traditions is compiled on this occassion to show the uniqueness of this day. Let’s check them out.
There are several Hungarian traditions related to Epiphany. In the old days, for instance, people going to church took a jar or a bottle with themselves to fill them with holy water, and in the morning, they started the day by crossing themselves using this water. Furthermore, holy water had great importance in the folk remedy, too.
Believers very often drank from the water to avoid illnesses, but they also poured it onto their livestock and treated diseases like sore throat and many others.
House blessings also start on 6 January. Traditionally, the local priest goes through the village and performs some rites to protect the inhabitants of the house from misfortune. Furthermore, with the holy chalk, he writes the initial letters of the Three Kings, Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar (CMS), above the door. It is believed that this practice protects the people from the bad, the evil, the illnesses and the mischief coming to the house.
The day of Epiphany also marks the end of the Christmas feats and the beginning of the period of saying goodbye to winter and looking forward to spring. This period coincides with the Carnival season lasting until Ash Wednesday, the day when the 40-day-long fasting period of Lent begins in preparation for Easter.
The festive period of Farsang is undoubtedly the most joyful part of the year.
Feasts, costume parties, rich food and colourful programmes wait for the visitors. Of course, the famous Carnival doughnuts, that the Palóc call pampuska, cannot be missing from the table either.
Fat Thursday and Busójárás
The peak of the period is building upon rich cultural traditions, like Fat Thursday. On Fat Thursday it is allowed to eat and drink as much as you can. This is the Carnival, that is often referred to in Hungary as “the tail of Farsang.” This period consists of 3 days and lasts from Carnival Sunday until Mardi Gras. Besides colourful programmes, it is also about saying goodbye to winter.
In some parts of the world, like in Venice or Rio, the annually-held carnivals are organised at this time of the year, while in Hungary, the most outstanding celebration is the Busójárás in Mohács.
This celebration is meant to scare away winter by wearing traditional masks and walking along the streets. In addition to this, the exceptional parade was also inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the UNESCO.
Therefore, if you would wonder what to do during the following weekends, do not forget that this is the beginning of the festival season so that you can enjoy many colourful programmes in the next few weeks in Hungary. Have fun! 😀
Featured image: Daily News Hungary