American writer, reporter and political commentator Walter Lippmann (1889–1974) was the first person who introduced the term and definition of stereotype in 1922; a term still used today. According to Lippmann, a stereotype is a distorted picture or image in a person’s mind, not based on personal experience, but derived culturally. Every nation has its own stereotypes, and Hungary is not an exception. Many tourists visit the country every year and leave with new opinions, but even people who have not visited Hungary before in their lives have their own beliefs. Let us see the ten most interesting stereotypes told of Hungarians by foreigners.
The first thing a foreigner meets with every time visiting another country is its language. The Hungarian language welcomes tourists on billboards, newspapers, signs and in conversations as well. Of course, people visiting the country cannot read the written Hungarian language, but on the other hand, they have many opinions about our spoken native language. The exciting thing about it is that nobody can compare it to another language.
Almost every review and opinion about our mother tongue says that the Hungarian language sounds beautiful, smooth and it is pleasant for the ears, but there are many debates about comparing it to other languages. There are several comparisons, for example, to Finnish, Swedish, Turkish, Russian, and even Italian language.
Furthermore, many believe that our language is like Sindarin language (fictional language from The Lord of the Rings) or other imaginary ones. While being told that our mother tongue sounds unique and beautiful to foreigners, it has a significant drawback as well. It has such a difficult grammatical system and hard to understand its logic, learning Hungarian for a foreigner is worse than a nightmare.
Half of the Hungarian people do not speak foreign languages. According to a statistical survey by the European Union, only Romania and the United Kingdom are ahead of us considering foreign language learning; of course, it is understandable why English people do not take this seriously. This is a frequent experience for people visiting Hungary because many times they have hardships in communicating with Hungarians.
Luckily, Hungary improved a lot in the last ten years. If not in the countryside but in bigger cities and in Budapest there are restaurants with English-speaking waiters and waitresses.
Serving foreigners in restaurants and pubs is not a problem anymore, but talking with them on the street and telling them information or directions is still something many Hungarians struggle with.
According to foreigners, Hungarians take dining as seriously as French people. Many Hungarian households cook their own meals, and the Sunday-lunch is still considered to be a sacred thing in the country. Meals, consisting of three courses, are exceptional and unique experiences for foreigners trying out the Hungarian cuisine. Eating has many other roles in our country, not just biological and traditional ones. Hungarians eat when they are sad, happy, to sum up, it is the central part of our culture.
Despite being a small country, the Hungarian gastronomy has a worldwide reputation. Even people who have not been to Hungary are familiar with the famous Goulash soup and pörkölt. Besides our traditional meals, there is another factor which is known by every foreigner.
According to tourists, a good Hungarian meal consists of the following ingredients: paprika, fat, onions and sour crème.
Pálinka is a Hungaricum and the country’s national drink, and we love to serve some to our arriving guests. The opinions about this Hungarian speciality are the same: it is rough. Foreigners who have never drunk pálinka before usually struggle the first time they “meet” this type of alcohol.
Drinking pálinka also carries an important communicative message. Refusing this drink is rude and everyone should accept at least one when they are offered.
Besides drinking it in restaurants, at home for special occasions, pálinka has many other benefits: it is good for headache, stomachache, and cold. But is it true or just a myth? CLICK HERE to find out!
The most common stereotype about Hungarian people is everything but positive. According to foreigners, Hungarians complain a lot, and they are quite pessimistic. Historians believe that this negative behaviour and attitude lies in the fact that Hungary was mostly a conquered country and many tragic events happened to its people during the past centuries. This is the main reason that Hungarians see negative things first then positive ones.
Apart from being pessimistic, foreigners believe that Hungarians have a good sense of humor and can joke around in any situation.
Many tourists told that they rarely see a Hungarian who can easily talk with them and opens up quickly with a big smile. Allegedly, Hungarians are very suspicious about strangers and do not communicate with them in a good mood.
Hungarian waiters, waitresses, salespersons, and taxi drivers have the worst reputation in foreign countries being the rudest persons someone have ever talked to.
Although we seem to be pessimistic and negative personalities, our hospitality has so much joy and love one cannot even imagine. We are excellent at welcoming guests and treating them with everything they need or desire. If someone is invited to a Hungarian household, he/she is going to be treated like a queen or a king. Even the most impoverished villages and towns do their bests when someone arrives for a visit.
Romans discovered the bathing benefits of Hungary 2000 years ago. The country has the most thermal water sources and baths. Almost every region of the country has its own city or town with historical spas like Budapest, Hévíz, Harkány, Gyula or Győr.
There are more than 120 thermal baths in Hungary and nearly 1,000 thermal water sources.
Many tourists miss the cinema while they spend more time in Hungary because Hungarian movie theatres only play movies in the Hungarian language. In Italy and Poland cinemas also have English language movies in their repertoires.
On the other hand, Hungary is the only country in the region which’s movie industry takes synchronizing seriously with the most amazing and excellent actors and actresses.
Featured image: Alpár Kató – Daily News Hungary